Tuesday, July 30, 2013

5 years

We celebrated our 5-year anniversary this past week. We treated ourselves to a night in Park City and left the kiddos with Matt's parents (thank you!!!!). It was nice to get away even if it was just a night. We went to dinner at a fun place on Main Street in Park City and walked around for awhile enjoying the sunset and live music.

The next morning we slept in (hallelujah!) went to breakfast and we were going to do the Alpine Slide but it was raining so we went shopping at the outlets instead for a few minutes. And then we had to go pick up the kids.

It has been a crazy 5 years (2 masters degrees, 4 moves, a layoff, 2 kids....) but it's been a wonderful 5 years, and I'm lucky to have spent it with Matt. He is a wonderful honey and I'm glad he puts up with me. I'm looking forward to the next 5 (and more) years together!

Parade preview

We went to the 24th of July parade preview with our cousins! I was especially happy that they invited us because we were not going to be actually going to the parade this year and I always forget about the float preview.

Plus, they had all sorts of fun things for the kids to do. Here's Emmy riding the little carousel.
And Emmy and Derek panning for gold!

I think this was Emmy's favorite part of the preview. And the octopus that was blowing bubbles!

Emmy was being kind of a stinker at first and not wanting to do anything, but she warmed up towards the end. Then we went to lunch together. Thanks Kyle, Derek, and Britni (and Tyler!) for the fun times!

To the more experienced than me

I know you are older and wiser and more experienced than this young, struggling mother of small children. I admire you for all you have done, for the children you have raised, for the wisdom that you offer us less-experienced ones. I know that when you make comments like, "Forget about the laundry and just hold that baby" or "They grow up too fast, cherish these moments" or "You'll miss these days" or "Quit whining and count your blessings" they are meant to help. But really, they don't. They just make me feel worse than the already-lacking-mother that I already feel like.

Do you remember what it's like to not want to hold your baby because you've been holding him for 5 hours and he won't quit crying? Do you remember what it's like to lug 2 screaming children (one in each arm) out of Target (or the library or the grocery store or the zoo or whatever) with everyone staring at you? Do you remember what it's like to mop your floor only to have milk spilled all over it 2 minutes later? Do you remember what it's like to make a nice dinner only to have it complained about and then thrown all over the couch? Do you remember what it's like to not remember the last time you got a full night's sleep? Do you remember what it's like to have to think of 23,459 activities to do each day to keep your 3-year-old busy? Do you remember what it's like to feel so lonely because the only person you talk to all day whines for 75% of the time? Do you remember what it's like to not fit in any of your "cute" clothes and having to use all your clothes budget to buy stuff for your kids instead of yourself? Do you remember what it's like to listen to 3 hours of crying every day? Do you remember what it's like to not be able to keep up with the messes, laundry, weeds, meals, etc no matter how hard you try? Do you remember what it's like to live on a budget? Do you remember what it's like to try to keep your kids quiet in church only to have people glare at you when they're not? Do you remember what it's like to never have a free moment for yourself? Do you remember what it's like to have to watch the same Dora show over and over again? Do you remember what it's like to have your child refuse to hold your hand while crossing the street so you have to run after her before a car comes? While holding a baby in your other hand? Do you remember what it's like to not be able to eat a meal in peace? Or eat it before it gets cold? Do you remember what it's like to not get anything out of church because you are pacing the hall with your crying baby?

I really do try to take your advice. I really do try to enjoy the times I have with these children while they are young. I really do try not to stress about keeping up with everything. I really am trying to do the best I can. But I struggle. A lot. I'm sorry I can't do all of those things all the time. I'm sorry I complain sometimes. I'm sorry I just want a friend sometimes. I'm sorry I am not living up to your expectations. I can't do it by myself. I need help.

I used to be a pretty competent and successful person. I've taught hundreds of college students leadership skills and hopefully been a good influence on them. I've served in many church callings. I taught hundreds of people the gospel as a missionary. I've stayed out of debt. I made it through grad school and wrote a thesis. I've been published in several magazines, journals, and newspapers and presented my research and writing at conferences. So why can't I raise children without feeling like I'm going to lose it?

I hope that when I'm in your shoes and look back on these days, I will remember all the good times I'm having with my children. Because really, there are a lot of good times. But I also hope that I remember how hard it was, and I hope that I can help a struggling mother in a way that would actually be helpful. I hope I remember that maybe she could use someone to call her up and offer to take her kids for an afternoon so she could go get a haircut. Or maybe just stop by and talk with her for awhile so she can have some adult interaction. Or maybe I could go weed her flowerbeds or hold her baby during church so she can actually listen to the lesson. Maybe I could treat her to a date night with her husband or even a session at the temple. Or maybe I could just tell her she's doing a good job. Because she probably needs to be reminded of that.

So thank you to those of you who say things like, "Wow, your kids are cute....they must be a handful!" or "Here, let me get that for you." or "You look nice today". You will never know how much those comments help.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flower salad, fishing, and 4-wheeling!

Last week we had some fun at the cabin! When I was a little girl, my cousin Melissa and I would always make "flower salad" at the cabin. It was our favorite! So I had to introduce Emmy to the art of flower salad. She loved it!
The idea is that you go around and put wildflowers in a cup, then hike up the little hill behind the cabin to the trickle of water stream and fill the rest of the cup with water. Then, Melissa and I would always give it to our Grandpa Lee to eat. And we were convinced that he really did eat it! So of course I showed Emmy how to give some to her grandpa! Ha! Grandpa Lee would have been proud!

Grandpa also took Emmy fishing. Here he is showing her how to bait the hook.

And taking her out to the shore.

Waiting for a bite...

and here's her fish! She actually caught 3 fish with Grandpa! Then she tried to reach out and pet it. Ha!

She wasn't too thrilled about going on the rope swing. She only liked it as long as I held onto her while swinging.

This is how I found her during her nap. All curled up in her sleeping bag reading books.

And we love to go on 4-wheeler rides too!

Fun fun!

Nathan and Jessica surprised us Tuesday night. It was pouring rain and we were playing Settlers and all of a sudden we hear the 4-wheeler start up. I said, "Why does it sound like someone is stealing our 4-wheeler?" So my dad ran downstairs and yelled, "Who's there?" Then Nathan climbed up onto the deck and barged in the front door! We weren't expecting them to come since Jessica was due to have a baby 3 days later.

Later that night we found Nathan asleep like this...

It reminded me of this...

Zach and Olivia played on the floor most of the time.

And Emmy was striking poses out on the rocks.

Zach was fascinated with this grass.

Anyway it was another great time at the cabin!

Emmy's Nemo party

Emmy's favorite movie to watch over the past year has been Finding Nemo, so when I asked her what kind of birthday party she wanted, she of course said, "A Nemo party!"

Emmy's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came to celebrate with her. The first activity was a Finding Nemo obstacle course. First, they had to get past the sharks (ie. Nathan). Kyle was a fast little fishy and almost made it past the shark.

Then they had to bounce through the jellyfish!

Then they had to be turtles and carry fish across the yard on their backs.

And finally they had to get swallowed by the whale and get spit out to rescue Nemo and his friends. Emily didn't really "get" this obstacle course. Oh well.

Then we had a little fishing pond where everyone got to fish for some prizes.

And then the kids got to make their own aquariums by putting little toy fishies, fish confetti, glitter, and colored water into jars.

Then it was time for presents! Emmy got lots of fun things. She sure is a lucky girl to have such good cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

Of course she had to try on her new shoes!

And then, of course, we had some birthday cake and homemade ice cream.

This was my best attempt at making her Nemo cake. I know it looks like a kindergartener drew this, but at least Emmy could tell it was Nemo! Ha!

I think she had a fun time though, and she was excited to have her cousins come over and play. Every few days she keeps asking if she can have another birthday party. Thank you to everyone who came and made Emmy's day special!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Emmy is 3!!!

My little Emmy girl turned 3 last week. I can't believe she's 3! For her birthday she requested to have a Nemo party with Nemo cake (which I will post about later). We did that the Saturday before her birthday. On her actual birthday we did lots of things that Emmy loves to do.

She loves to get ice cream so we went and got some froyo! We also went to feed the ducks and to the park in the morning.

She loves to swim in her little pool in the backyard, and she got this fun slip-n-slide from her cousins, so we set that up too. She didn't really get how to do it, but she had fun just scooting along the slide.

She got some fun presents from Mom and Dad and Zach and we had some birthday cake. She also loves balloons, so she got some of those to wake up to. She kept wanting to take them in the car and they kept flying away every time we would open the door. Ooops! We also took her to her first movie in the theater...Monsters U. She was very apprehensive about being in the big dark room, and she sat on Daddy's lap most of the time, but she watched the whole movie. We also took Zach since we could not find a babysitter, and he did pretty well. I had to stand with him part of the time, but at least I didn't have to leave!

At 3 years old, Emmy is a very independent girl. She wants to do everything herself and she wants to have things her way. I'm not exactly sure how to deal with this because she throws a fit when something is not done her way or in her timeframe. Obviously, this is not acceptable. Most of the time I just ignore her fits or she gets a time-out, but it doesn't seem to be working.

She is sometimes apprehensive about trying new things, but once you show her how, she exclaims, "I want to try!" She likes to dress herself, which can be very entertaining to see what she comes out wearing. Her clothes are often mismatched and on backwards, so she looks like a little ragamuffin half the time. Especially because she hates to get her hair done and tries to run away when I'm trying to fix it.

Although she is independent at home with her family, when she is around others, she is very shy. She often doesn't do well with other kids. For example, in nursery she will play just fine if I am there, but when I leave she goes and sits in a corner by herself. Or when other kids are at the park, she has a hard time going and playing like she usually does. Or she really doesn't like to go play at the neighbors and stuff. I'm also not sure what to do about this. I want to help her make friends.

She is also a very sweet, caring girl. She likes to give hugs to mom and dad. She takes such good care of her babies and stuffed animals. She is always feeding them and putting them down for naps, etc. She loves to go to Grandma Shepherd's house and jump on the trampoline and she loves to go to Grandma Lively's house and feed the dog and chase her around.

She is very protective of her things and we are trying to teach her how to share. (Not sure how to be successful at that one either.) She is also learning to say "I'm sorry" and will often come up to me and say she's sorry for some random thing. It's so cute.

She loves to see animals, and especially loves to go to the aquarium and Wheeler Farm. She loves to feed bread to the duckies. She loves to do crafts, especially ones that involve stickers. She is getting really good at saying her prayers and singing Primary songs. The last thing she always says in her prayers is to bless Uncle Kyle on his mission, and it's stinkin' cute.

She will walk around with a pretend phone and "talk" to people. Most of the time she "calls" Aunt Laurie and asks if she's changing Olivia's bum. Ha!

She loves to be silly and loves to be tickled and chased and wrestled. She loves mac-n-cheese and most fruits and cereal and yogurt. She also loves popsicles and French fries. I promise I do feed her real food!

She loves when Daddy comes home and when she hears the garage door opening, she runs to open the door to the house for him. She also likes to watch "shows". Her favorites are Dora, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, and Little Mermaid. She loves to read books too.

She got this cute little scooter for her birthday from Grandma Lively, and she loves to ride it around!

She also likes to open and close the doors on the new van. She loves baths and stays in there until the water is cold and we make her get out. She also loves to go potty everywhere we go. I think she just likes to see all the different bathrooms! Ha! She has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger.

Anyway, we are grateful to have this cute, silly girl in our family. Happy Birthday Emmy! We sure do love you!

9 months

 Mr. Zach-man is 9 months! That is crazy! You'd think by now he would be a better sleeper, but don't let this picture fool you...

Even though he look adorable sleeping, he is still not a good sleeper (sigh). I am wondering if I'll ever get a decent night sleep again. He is doing slightly better, but he still often wakes up in the night and wakes up VERY early (the last few days at 5:30 a.m....uggh!)

Anyway, despite his poor ability to sleep, he still is a pretty cute little bugger. He loves to eat anything he can get his hands on. Seriously, he would eat all day if I'd keep feeding him. He loves to make a very loud screeching sound. We joked and said that we should have named him Screech instead of Zach with his loud screeching noise and his curly dark hair! Ha!

He can sit up and roll over both ways, but has no interest in crawling or standing. That's ok with me...I don't really want him to be mobile yet. He is very grabby and will grab at anything set in front of him. This has resulted in several plates/bowls of spilled food that I have put too close to his reach.

He loves his sister, although she doesn't really like him very much. (Notice the big scratch on his head...courtesy of Emmy.) But Zach loves to watch her and try to do what she is doing.

He is also very grunty. He gets really red in the face trying to push stuff out. I don't know if he's constipated or what, but sometimes he seems really uncomfortable.

People always tell me what a beautiful boy he is. He's gonna be a heartbreaker someday with that curly, dark hair and big blue eyes! We love you Zach!

Monday, July 8, 2013

My big fat Shepherd family pool party

Every year my Grandma throws a big birthday bash for all the grandkids. This year she rented out a swimming pool for us all. It was great!

Emmy loved swimming!

Especially because Rivers was there!

And what is a Shepherd family pool party without a synchronized swimming routine?

Yeah, we are dorks.