November and Thanksgiving

We had another whirlwind month and a fun, relaxing holiday.

Megan performed in her fall orchestra concert and did a great job. I love that she’s learning to play violin so beautifully. She will performing in a holiday concert at the mall in a few weeks, and is already excited about her Disneyland trip in May. She earned every bit of the $800 the trip will cost. I’m so proud of her. She continues to excel in her classes and loves her teachers. She has struggled with fitting into a group of peers, but I am impressed at the way she stands up for herself and others. She is looking forward to her 13th birthday! In this orchestra picture, she is directly behind the conductor. Of course I managed to sit in that exact spot.


Gavin, after dealing with both boredom and anxiety at school, is starting homeschooling again tomorrow. I am comfortable with the curriculum I’ve organized for him and hope he will be able to work mostly independently. He can be a homebody, and loves to be at home reading, building with Legos, and working/playing on the computer. He loves to program computer games in Scratch, build in Minecraft, and learn about rocket launches in Kerbal Space Program. I’m hopeful I can use these programs to get him proficient in computer languages and code.

Ben is loving first grade and is reading! He can still be mischievous but can also be independent, helpful, and highly motivated. He loves to play with his friends and I enjoy seeing him play with kids from so many different countries. Recently, he begged to play with a new friend David, who lives in our neighborhood. We tracked him down and discovered his family had just moved here from Korea. We managed to invite David over despite the family’s limited English, and it was fun to hear David copying Ben’s language, including inflections and colloquialisms. Later, we went to the park with their family, and David’s mom said to me: “Ben David first friend.” It made me so happy, and also want to move out of the country for a little while so my kids can experience another culture and learn another language!


Logan is a piece of work, as we tell him. It’s safe to say the sweet baby is gone, but we are loving the big boy. Totally potty-trained and sporting his new glasses, Logan’s favorite past times, if I’m honest, are falling off cliffs in Minecraft and watching Octonauts. However, he loves preschool, books, and board games, especially Whoowasit?, which I think has been played more than any board game in our house, ever. He still shares a bedroom with his brothers, which I love more than I ever thought I would and will continue indefinitely. Here are a few pictures from his Thanksgiving feast at preschool.



The weather has been crazy cold. We enjoyed a day at the trampoline place to get out our energy, but we’ve been hunkering down and eating lots of soup. I even bought Logan a ski jacket from the consignment shop; that’s how cold it is.



My band played two shows in November and had a blast. We played a bar near UW and made $200 and all the warm beer we wanted (which was none, if you’re confused). They didn’t believe us when we said we weren’t drinking and brought us a pitcher anyway. We also played a Mormon event and got paid in all the leftover food we could carry, which actually ended up being a great deal because there were catered street tacos and about 50 pounds of leftover carnitas. You should have seen me, Rachelle, Rachel, and Nina carrying styrofoam containers of food to our cars. I started with a few, but when Rachelle said, “This freezes, you know” and Nina, who is from Brazil, said, “We don’t waste food where I come from”, I loaded up even more. In addition to the band, I’m busy editing college admissions essays, social media marketing for a non-profit, and applying to grad school. Never a dull moment. Christopher has been working hard to establish his company and has assembled a multi-national team that we are hoping will find success. Cross your fingers.


In the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving arrived and it was delicious. The Carls invited us over, and Shay and Christopher managed to split up all the food jobs so I ended up doing NO COOKING. It was magical. Christopher dry brined and roasted two turkeys. He made stock and gravy with the giblets and necks. He roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans. He baked three pumpkin pies with homemade crust and meringue folded into the pumpkin so they were nice and fluffy. Megan asked to make cranberry jelly. Oh my goodness, it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, with hints of orange, vanilla, and coriander. Shay went all out, too, making green bean casserole from scratch, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of good stuff. I made cranberry jalapeno dip and Carl and I pretty much ate the whole thing. I normally would have been sad without cornbread dressing and sweet potato souffle, but no one really wanted it besides me and it saved me doing any cooking, so I was fine without it. In the aftermath, I enjoyed many turkey, mayo, and cranberry jelly sandwiches, and a big pot of turkey soup.






Just like that, it’s Christmas season, and I am so thankful for this crew of mine. Thanksgiving night I spent the night at the foster care sanctuary, where we had two toddlers in care. They were just precious, and even slept well enough that as the volunteer, I was able to sleep all night. Friday morning I headed home, where Megan was all ready to get out the Christmas box and decorate. As with Halloween, I just let the kids do it. They love it, I was able to finish up the dishes from Thanksgiving, and some day, maybe, I’ll make things look really gorgeous. In the meantime, I’ve realized how things look is overrated, and I’m just focusing on how things feel. And they feel pretty good.

Halloween 2015

Halloween was about as relaxed as you can get around here. I took out the Halloween box the first day of October. Logan played dress-up and the other kids took out the few meager decorations I have and hung them on the walls with thumb tacks. And I didn’t even move them.

Logan had a preschool trip to the pumpkin patch. A cold fog had settled in and it was frigid. The highlight (for Logan) was digging for worms. I’m sorry, but I miss Virginia, when we picked pumpkins in shorts and t-shirts.


A week before Halloween I picked up two pumpkins from Trader Joe’s. For family night the Monday before Halloween we carved them. Or should I say, the kids carved them. Christopher cut the tops off and all four kids did every bit of scooping, carving, and separating the pumpkin seeds. And Christopher roasted them. I can’t tell you how nice it was to sit back and watch everyone having fun. Older kids are the best.



Logan had a school Halloween party. I made him wear the vampire costume so he could go to the bathroom without difficulty. He was sporting his new glasses, which were ordered too big (he since has gotten a smaller pair). Poor guy has amblyopia, just like his Aunt Allison. Hopefully we caught it early enough to help him strengthen his weak eye.



We had our church Halloween party, which was a carnival, chili cook-off, and trunk or treat. Christopher made the chili, but there were some more creative entries (sweet pork chili, for example) that beat his traditional recipe. The kids were cute. I resolved to spend no almost no money on Halloween this year, so we were fortunate to receive a load of hand-me-down costumes. Megan and I attempted last-minute costumes for the party. She pulled off her mime better than my Jane Goodall. Poor Gavin had been sick with a new cold (chills, aches), so he stayed home all day Thursday and Friday, in bed or watching TV.






We had a relaxed Saturday. I think most of us were in our pajamas until it was time to go to a neighborhood potluck at 5 p.m. We ate and played, and by six it was dark and time for trick or treating. After I made him stop and let me take one picture of him, Gavin went off with his buddies, Megan took Ben, and Christopher, Logan, and I headed home. Christopher stayed home to hand out candy and I took Logan to about 10 houses before he was ready to call it a night. Gavin even beat us home and was in a hot shower before we arrived. Megan and Ben were not far behind. Since we are kind of mean parents, we only let our kids keep as many pieces of candy as their age, and the rest disappeared. Megan chopped up a bunch of candy bars and put them in the freezer. She says she’s going to use them in place of chocolate chips in cookies.




By Monday, November 2, I had washed the Halloween costumes, packed everything back up, and put the Halloween box away for next year.

End of Summer

Our August was a lot of fun. We played at the lake(s), went hiking, went to a bonfire/s’mores party at Golden Gardens with Holly and Jansen’s ward, went to our ward salmon bake. Christopher and the big kids hiked up Crystal Mountain and took the gondola down. Megan went to camp and the boys missed her. Ben lost both his front teeth. The kids went constantly back and forth between our house and the Carl’s, to the point where the kids were asking what was for dinner at both houses and eating whatever sounded better to them. Shay and I let them until school started.
















Logan’s 4th Birthday

Logan turned four in the middle of August, if that tells you about how busy we’ve been around here. He had fun opening his presents and having a little party at the park. I’m happy to report the cupcakes tasted delicious, but they looked awful. We swirled peanut butter and chocolate frosting, and it looked like poop. The kids ate them with no complaints. The adults politely declined.

At four years old, Logan is starting to become one of the big kids. He loves books and Special Agent Oso and Minecraft. He enjoys playing outside, but has no stamina for long walks. He eats everything, but especially loves oatmeal, pita bread sandwiches (pita, hummus, and cucumber), and spaghetti. His favorite color is red. He likes sharing a room with his brothers, and still sleeps on the bottom bunk. He still wakes up if he’s cold or wet or has a bad dream. A few nights ago he had a night terror. I ran in his room where he was screaming, “There’s a squirrel in my bed!” I calmed him down and tucked him back in. The brothers barely stirred.

He absolutely loves his preschool, and has trouble playing independently because he loves being with friends. Brookie is his best cousin. Ben is his best brother. He’s starting to enjoy playing Legos with the big boys, which is awesome! He can’t keep up with them on the trampoline yet. He still gets left behind when Dad or Mom takes the big kids on adventures, but when he can hike a mountain or sit through a movie, he’ll be right there with them. With Logan’s 4th birthday, it’s safe to say we are officially out of the baby stage!


Ben convinced Logan to share his birthday money from Gigi, and they each chose a “Beanie Boo”. Logan picked the “pink fluffy unicorn”.





Desmond, Margot, Brooklyn, Isaac, and Logan


Gift from Grandma and Grandpa


Birthday song at church

School, Day Two

Today was Wednesday, late start for Megan, so we didn’t have to get up until 7:30. Gavin read our scripture and requested a big pot of oatmeal for breakfast, which we ate with fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Ben pitched a fit at the bus stop because it was the first day of kindergarten and he wasn’t allowed to be first on the bus anymore. The driver had to sign in each kindergartner for the first time and Ben was incredibly impatient. Our bus stop has about 20 kids at it, mostly boys. They are rowdy and loud and one of our little neighbors, an only child and first time kindergartner, was holding tightly to both parents and quietly crying. Stephanie Rubyor (also a mom of three boys) and I had to yell at them to quit scaring the little girl. Hopefully she’ll get used to them.

Logan got to meet his teachers today. He’s going to Catholic preschool and I’m thrilled so far. I convinced my best friend Laura to enroll her youngest in Logan’s class, so we’ll be able to carpool. After the meet and greet, we walked across the street to the library and talked while Logan played computer and Asher put about 50 books in their library bag.

After lunch, I made Logan have quiet time and he fell asleep (yay!) Unfortunately, it was early release day so Gavin and Ben came home 15 minutes later. While Gavin listened out for Logan, I took Ben on a long walk to get his energy out. When we got home, Logan was just waking up. We waited for Megan to get home, I made a pot of soup (three in a row–I kind of love Fall), and we played outside again until dinner. Christopher stopped by the Farmers’ Market on the way home and brought back a flat of nectarines, so life is good.

I went ahead and took Logan’s “first day of school” pictures even though he doesn’t start until next week. He picked out the shirt because it has a pocket, and he likes to carry around a pen in it. Our photo shoot lasted about ninety seconds.

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First Day of School

My day began just after midnight, when I was going to bed. Megan came into my room, fully dressed, and said, “Oh, good, you’re up already.” I laughed, pointed out that it was 12:08, and helped her back to bed. She was obviously a little out of it, and relieved to hear she still had six hours to sleep.

At 6:30, my alarm went off, and we got up and started the day for real. We read scriptures for the first time since June and had first breakfast. Megan left at seven, and the boys’ bus doesn’t come until nine, so we have a solid two-hour stretch of the boys just waiting. I need to figure out a productive way for them to fill that time. I hate the schedule.

Gavin and Ben jumped onto the bus without looking back, a good sign. Ben immediately found a friend and started chatting, while Gavin, as a fifth grader, took the very back seat and enjoyed the solitude. I’m not sure if anyone sat by him later. There are still two school buses for our relatively small neighborhood. Each bus only stops 2 or 3 times and fills completely.

Logan and I took the slow walk home in the rain. When I asked him if he was happy or sad his brothers were gone, he said, “Happy. I don’t care.” Within five minutes he changed his tune: “I miss the brothers.” We went to the playgroup at the Lutheran church, Trader Joe’s, and spent a quiet, rainy afternoon at home. I’m not going to lie; it was long. I need to remember how to keep him occupied so I can get some stuff done. We read books, cleaned, and made a pot of soup. I took out the easel so he could paint and color. My friend Sheryl brought by some fresh bread, which was perfect because I had made split pea soup.

Megan bounced in the door at 2:30. Her day was awesome and the play-by-play took an hour. She loves her teachers, she was brave and found a place to sit at lunch, and she was able to help lots of sixth graders as a WEB Leader. I was so happy for her. We spent 45 minutes putting her hair in curlers Monday night, but with the rain her hair frizzled immediately. She definitely has her mama’s hair, and I’m wondering what will happen when she hits puberty.

We picked Gavin and Ben up from the bus at four. Ben ran right past us, through puddles, in the street, all the way home. Gavin was slower, and when I asked him to take out the recycling he melted down, so we got some soup and bread in him right away. After that and some Lego time, he was ready to do chores. Gavin’s favorite part of the day was “silent reading time” and there “wasn’t really a part he didn’t like.” Ben had P.E. That’s all I was able to get out of him. Here’s to another great year.







Last Day of Summer

And… the summer is over. I can’t wait until the kids are in school so I can blog all about it. We have spent the last week or two getting ready for the year, buying and organizing supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, and clothes. I think all four kids are excited and anxious.

Megan is starting 8th grade and was thrilled when she saw her schedule today and has three teachers she had last year–all whom she loves. She is taking two classes for high school credit, 1st year Spanish and 10th grade Geometry. I guess it’s real now, because those grades will be on the transcript. I’m surprisingly not worried about it. Megan will be playing violin in orchestra again, trying out for the volleyball team, and participating in WEB–Where Everybody Belongs. She went to several WEB training meetings last week and participated in the orientation for the sixth graders. She continues to be helpful, kind, intelligent, and hard-working. She continued to save money for her orchestra Disney trip by babysitting, pet sitting, and house sitting. She’s only about halfway to her $1000 goal, so she’s thinking about becoming a tutor and/or child’s birthday party entertainer this Fall. If she could legally get a job, I know she would.

Gavin can’t believe he’s starting 5th grade, and at dinner said, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this! Ten years!” I was frazzled during “meet the teacher” today because I thought we were running late and when I got to the class his teacher said, “Actually, you’re 30 minutes early.” Because I can’t read. I told her, “I have too many kids” and she laughed and I think it’s going to be a good year. Gavin is sweet, helpful, kind, and a natural puzzle solver. He spent most of his summer playing Legos and Minecraft, chess and Rook.


Every time I mentioned school to Ben, he nonchalantly replied, “Oh, I’m not going to school.” But when today came, he did go meet his teacher, and was polite, charming, and as sweet as could be. He said hello to every kid and adult he passed, and it seemed like everyone at that school, for better or worse, knows who Ben is! Ben is most excited, of course, for recess, where he will play soccer, and PE.

Logan is going to be sad tomorrow when he realizes he doesn’t start school until September 9. But his day will come.

Palmetto Falls Fourth

We spent the 4th of July at Palmetto Falls Waterpark on Ft. Jackson. It was cloudy so the crowds were light. Ben was just tall enough to go on all the slides and Logan was big enough for the smaller ones, so everyone was happy. Ben probably climbed the stairs to ride the bigger slides a hundred times. Logan refused to wear his puddle jumper and we had to keep a close eye on him.

You might notice that Ben has the brightest neon yellow shirt you’ve ever seen. Best purchase I’ve ever made. He was easy to spot in the ocean, at the pool, and at the waterpark, and I’m sure he’ll be wearing it to the lake here, too.

Gavin got stung by a wasp towards the end of our trip but thankfully had no reaction. In the evening we went to Jeff and Melody’s for more swimming and a BBQ with cousins.

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Just Keep Swimming

Of course it was hot in South Carolina, so we needed a place to swim. Fortunately, Emily and Lauren (formerly) Kamber were at Hunting Creek a lot, so we tagged along. It seems smaller than it did when I was a kid, but it was perfect for my crew. Sometimes Cait and family went with us, sometimes Ethan. Thankfully no injuries like last year.

Ben improved his swimming, and Logan progressed quickly. By the end of our three weeks in South Carolina, he could finally swim a short distance, raising his head to breathe. The last pictures are in the Dryden’s back yard, next door to my parents.

The butterfly picture was at Hunting Creek. A butterfly the exact color as Ben’s swim shirt followed him around for a half hour, continually landing on him. It would fly up in the trees, and then eventually circle the pool until it found Ben. Sadly, the poor creature followed Ben to the car, where it landed on the hot, black dashboard and died immediately.

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