Monday, September 29, 2008

Sipping Squash Through A Straw

Thank you, Thank you April Clark for the genious behind this great idea. No more messes! Sara finishes in a minute or two instead of 30 minutes. I love it. Best of all it is a great on the go method. I even fed her like this at church!!!!! Yeah for convenient mommying ideas!

100 Dollars and Answered Prayers

So ...some background. Chase has been working very hard this summer to save up his money from his allowance and his lawn mowing job so that he can earn enough money to maybe visit his friend Ryan Johnson in Georgia sometime. The hardest thing about the saving is the not spending and I am glad to see he has more self control than I do.

I had to borrow money from him earlier this month when I had spent all of my "allowance" and still had a week to go before the next pay check. The family had to eat and thank goodness Chase is a miser. So I promised to pay him a dollar interest and to ask the bank for a 100 dollar bill to replace all the ones, fives and twenties he lent me. Chase has always been infatuated with large bills (especially $2 bills) so I figured having the one big bill would make it easier to save and not spend.

Well we went to our scout pack meeting last Thursday and Chase wanted to show off his $100 bill even though Dad told him to leave his money in the car. Of course, you guessed it, he lost all $110 dollars playing around outside as we waited for someone to show up with a key that worked. As we started the pack meeting Chase realized it was missing. Poor boy he looked so pale and I knew he was fighting hard not to cry. A few of the moms and I went out with him to search. Eventually the ten dollar bill was found but not the hundred. We looked for an hour before we had just looked everywhere and it was too dark to see anymore.

About half way through our looking I asked Chase if he had said a prayer. I think this was a real awakener for me about how poor my own testimony of prayer is. I struggled for a few minutes before suggesting the idea to Chase, worried that if he did pray and his prayer wasn't answered the way he wanted, he wouldn't believe in the power of prayer anymore. As a mother I wanted him to get what he wanted. He had worked so hard for that money and I was proud of him for saving it for a worthy purpose and not just a video game. Anyway, he had said a prayer already. But I hadn't. So I headed over to some secluded bushes and asked the Lord to bless Chase with the recovery of his money. I realized and acknowledged in the prayer that the Lord would have to choose what lesson was best for Chase:

A: Chase you have done a great job working hard and saving and because of your faith I will deliver the money into your hands (or something like that)

B: Chase you showed pride by bragging about and showing your money off to your friends today. You need to learn to be humble and have better taste. Next time keep your blessings to yourself and don't flaunt them before your friends. But because of your faith in prayer I will comfort you and provide ways for you to re-earn your savings...(maybe)

Anyway I acknowledged that either blessing would be valuable but my heart was breaking for him and I knew that he would be devastated. I wanted the Lord to choose answer A so badly that I was afraid to pray and then get answer B or something similar in response.

Well after we came to the conclusion that the money was no longer outside and had either blown away or was picked up by somebody we gathered up to head inside for what was left of pack meeting. As we came to the door a set of missionaries arrived. We told them we had lost the money and that if they could keep their ears to the ground (in case they heard of someone finding it) we would be grateful. A few minutes later I went in and heard them on the phone. They had called a set of missionaries that had been to the chaple earlier (when we were arriving) and asked if they had seen it. Those missionaries had found the money but had to leave on splits to make their appointments before they could go around the church asking for it's owner. What a miracle. I mean really. Who finds a $100 bill and returns it? missionaries. How does the Lord prevent a little boys summer savings from blowing away in the wind? missionaries.

I said a silent prayer of the most sincere gratitude I had felt for something in a long time. The Lord had answered the prayers of a child. Not just any child, my child and in so doing he blessed not only him but a very faithless mother. I am so grateful for the love the Lord has for my little family. I like to think that it was the Lord's love for me in addition to his love for Chase that helped him to decide on option A.

Chase bore his testimony in Sacrament meeting this Sunday about what a good experience he had. I think it is the second time he has done so. It was so wonderful to listen to his increase of faith. And again I was thankful for such a wonderful lesson learned.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back Up Plans In Tacoma

You don't have to live in Washington for long before you learn by experience to always have a back up plan for every outdoor activity you attempt. If you don't, you run the risk of some serious depression because you are always house bound. Or, even if you have an exceptionally strong constitution and can weather the let down yourself, you will soon find yourself the captain of a mutinous army of children who need to get out and do SOMETHING and are very bummed and way too energetic for your own "extra" strong constitution to survive for long.

We were supposed to go on a 15 mile bike ride this weekend (and will someday soon...I'm crossing everything on my body that is crossible). But total gloom, chill fog and rain were a huge determining factor in canceling our excursion. So off we went to Tacoma. Can you believe that we have not explored the closest "big" city to us in the three years we have lived here? We have been to Point Defiance and Ruston Way to eat and crab but that's it. Saturday we actually did Tacoma stuff. I got our day trip plan from Sunset magazine. Another real favorite. I steal them every time I visit the doctor. (I am such a larcenist, that would be a really good Christmas idea if anyone is looking) We started at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. It was way more awesome than I could have hoped. We were thinking two hours would be plenty of time. Wrong-o. I wish we had more time. We went first to the factory arena and actually witnessed first hand glass blowing. Then we went to the Children's Art room and the kids and I made stained glass creations (out of plastic). I was so impressed with their kids program. I am going to do it with my achievement day girls. They have this cool contest every month. Kids turn in their ideas for a glass creation. Something funky and colorful. The artisans look through the entries every month and then choose one to create. They make one for the child and keep one for the museum. Totally cool. We loved the displays and exhibitions. We really enjoyed every minute we had there. It is free every third Thursday night. We will be going back for sure.

Then we ate dinner at the coolest place. It was just down the street called The Dock Street Sandwich Company. We felt like total celebrities. I have never had such amazing customer service. The menu was small but the food was delicious. But more than anything, we loved Shannon our server and daughter of the owners. She even diced up fruit for Sara!!!! They had the kids draw pictures for them after dinner and framed them and hung them up right then and there. It was so much fun. We will go back again as well.

For desert we went to Hello Cupcake for the prettiest, yummiest tasting cupcakes around. The girls were especially excited. The frosting was sooo good.

It was such a great "indoor" weekend. So if you are visiting us next or thinking about it. You can be sure we will take you on this very fun adventure in Tacoma if it happens to be raining...and the chances are good:-)

My Dancing Baby

...babies who dance and wiggle with glee...
These are a few of my favorite things...

I barely can catch her dancing on camera. As soon as I bring out the camera she is distracted from rocking out. But I kid you not every time we turn on the music she starts swaying back and forth. She has been doing it for months. We all love it. I was so worried she would grow out of it as she got older. I'm glad she is still a swinger and a swayer. Maybe this one will be my little ballerina!

And yes Rock Band really is one of her favorite games. It is a true family affair over here!

Can A Mother Love Her Baby Any More?

Seriously... she is the happiest, easiest, cutest, most animated, smiliest, chubbiest, smoochiest baby in the world. And I love her sooooo much!

Finger Painting And Head Shaking

I had to take advantage of the beautiful days we had last week. I had some stores of finger paints that I got out for Kate, Sara and Ella (Kate's friend). The big kids were not too happy I didn't have enough for them but they were really good sports. I was hoping to catch Sara doing some of her special moves. She does the cutest things when she is excited. Our two favorites are the "head wiggle" and the "Sara dance". I caught a tiny bit of "head wiggling" on the video, she is just so camera shy. Anyway the girls had a great time making color blob paintings and it was fun to take advantage of the warm weather!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beautiful Daughters

I love their natural, wild beauty. They are so free spirited and sweet. Will anyone ever be worthy of my gems?
My friend Troy Baker took the pictures of Sara and Kate.

Things That Are Working

If I had to grade myself as a Mother on my success at teaching my kids to be responsible for themselves, their rooms, toys, chores etc... I would have to give myself a failing grade. I have tried so many ideas. Most of the time they fail because I'm such a lazy creature. I give up. Sometimes they fail because I just can't find a way to make my kids interested. Sometimes, a lot of times, I think back to my children hood and wonder how my Mom did it. I know she struggled with me. (maybe that's why I struggle to teach my kids) But really she did a good job at teaching us those all important skills. Except laundry where I have to give her a failing grade:-) Yes I never did a load of laundry until I was married. Poor Dave, I had no idea how to even use the machine. I don't blame her too much though for not wanting me to ruin her machine and her clothes. I have already decided that my kids will wash their own clothes separately when the time comes... Anyway... I struggle. How do other parents teach their children to be so responsible. My friends have their kids do jobs, make their beds...even showering is a chore over here. So after much thought I have come up with some ideas of my own and another gem from Family Fun (the chore sticks) to try yet again to get the kids into a good routine.

So here it is, the Wilcox plan:

First the kids get up and we all wash up.
Then it is downstairs for scripture study. (I'll have to post about that another day)
Then it is back to getting ready for school with the help of this handy dandy chart!

Emily has always needed a little extra help in the getting dressed department. She can spend an hour starring at her closet wondering what to wear. So I came up with this little flip book to help her decide.

We had a fashion show where she tried on every piece of clothes except play clothes that I don't let her wear to school. Then I made a section in the book with whole outfits that I bought to go together. There is a section of shirts and a section for bottoms. She can flip around and try different combinations until she finds what she wants to wear and then can go and get all the "pieces" that are in the picture that she needs.

When they are done with their chart Chase is off to school and Emily has a very convenient extra 30 minutes. This is the perfect time to do her piano practice. I haven't had a single complaint out of her yet. I know we are still in the "honeymoon" phase of her just starting. I sit down and do it with her. I think the trade off of working for getting some one on one time with me is the trick here. Then off she goes.

When the kids come home they have until 6:00 to play with friends either outside, in the house, on play dates or in the park. At 6:00 I call them in and we have dinner, do homework, read from what ever book we are reading in and then the kids pull sticks, without looking, for chores. There are three free sticks in the bunch and they are always hopeful that one of their two chores or maybe even both will be free-bees. But I think they also like the change everyday, instead of doing the same old chore everyday.

After all of that if they have extra time they can do whatever they want until bedtime.
Bed time is a 8:00 and then much to my relief the day is over!!!

And so far it is working well...

Kate Starts Preschool

I signed Kate up for the Co-op preschool at Chloe Clark. She is so excited to be going to school at Emily's school. After volunteering with me for years I think she thinks of it as her school too. The co-op looks great in every way except the way it looks like is going to suck me dry of free time. I have to volunteer teach at the the preschool once a week, leaving Sara behind. Which me that I will also now have to babysit once a week. (no matter how much I love the kids I'm watching I'm never real eager to get into that again) Then there are parent meetings and fundraisers I have to attend. Way to much obligation waying me down. Sometimes I wish i had just done our perfect little friend school again. But this is what Katie really wanted.

So how was the first day? She loved every minute. Painting was of course where she spent most of her 15 minutes. (you read that right...totally insane, it was a "soft start" I think the teacher was hopeful to get to know the children one on one) It was so anti climatic! Her Kate has been waiting a whole month for her class to start. We have gone to meet the teacher, the open house, various meeting and the special day finally arrived. Only after 15 minutes we were having to walk out the door. Kate cried the whole way to the car. She was so sad school only lasted a split second. Poor baby. Today is a full day so hopefully she will come home happy as a lark.

We saw her teacher at Stake conference this weekend. Small world those LDS circles. Her name is Ms. Lauren. This is Kate's take:

"I like that Ms. Lauren like to let us paint. I am excited to play with the rainbow rice (which we donated). We get to learn in our classroom. I love that I have a backpack. I get to eat. She even has rocks and a magnifying glass! I get to see Emma she lives across the hall form my class!"

So here is to my smart little sweety. I hope she comes home educationally and artistically fulfilled today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Katie's 20 Questions

I thought it would be fun to do this with Kate, some of her friends have done it and their answers were so cute!

Q: What is something Mommy always says to you?
A: No

Q: What makes Mommy happy?
A: Cuddles

Q: What makes Mommy sad?
A: When I don't be good

Q: What does Mommy do to make you laugh?
A: Tickle me

Q: What was Mom like when she was a little?
A: I think you had smooth hair

Q: How old do you think your Mommy is?
A: 15

Q: How tall is your Mommy?
A: Real big like a giant

Q: What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
A: Cuddle me

Q: What does Mommy do when you're not around?
A: You are sad and not happy and you kind of take a rest

Q: What would Mommy be famous for?
A: Do cool things like handstands or go under water or climb trees and roast marshmallows

Q: What is Mommy really good at?
A: Painting the walls

Q: What does your Mom do for her job?
A: Paint and babysit

Q: What is your Mommy's favorite food?
A: Chocolate

Q: What makes you proud of your Mommy?
A: When you say we can go camping

Q: If I were a cartoon character who would I be?
A: Hmmmmm, What not to wear (I don't think she got it)

Q: What do you and your Mommy do together?
A: Play, watch cartoons, eat

Q: How are you and your Mommy the same?
A: I have curly hair and your have curly hair, Do you like caterpillars?

Q: How are you and your Mom different?
A: You have big arms and can go under water but I can't, you have different color eyes but I have blue

Q: How do you know your Mommy loves you?
A: Because you keep telling me, because when I say "I love you", you say "I love you too the mostest"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

At Last...Why I Love Dave

Dave and I catching up on "us" time in Florence Italy during Dave's year in Egypt

Ages ago I started a series of posts about why I love the different members of my family. I stopped short at Dave. Not because I didn't love him, of course! But I don't really know how to put into words what it is about him that makes me love him so much. And when I have tried for the sake of this post what comes out sounds so selfish. And maybe my reasons for loving him are selfish... What it all comes down to though, is that I love Dave because he loves me. So totally unconditionally and with all of his heart. What more could a girl ask for. When I spend the family fortune, go a week without cooking a real dinner, forget to do something important, nag him about this or that, snap at him in frustration, refuse his help or advice and all those other nasty things the less better half of myself sometimes lets slip out he never, ever raises his voice at me. I never feel judged. I am always forgiven. No matter what, Dave, like Ingrid Michaelson's song on my play list, loves me for who and what I am.

I love that he is my best friend. There are times in life when I know that all I need is for him to come home, hold me, hug me or just plain sit beside me and I know everything will feel better. He is the constant means of optimism in my sometimes pessimistic life. There are a ton of text book things to list, if I were making a list of all the things I love about Dave. But honestly if it weren't for that very selfish reason, that it's just because he loves me so completely back, there wouldn't be any "Us". Because that is why I married him. I knew I would always be his princess, good times or bad.
And when I heard this song on the radio, I thought, "Well I'm not the only one" I'm finally writing this post.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Emily's Baptism

(we had to change the date and time of Emily's baptism after finding out almost everyone she had invited would be at a BYU football game that afternoon...thanks Lisa for the great invitation inspiration:-)

We baptized Emily this weekend. It was a really beautiful baptism. The weather was perfect. I at least, felt the Spirit so strongly. There was something extra special about Baptizing Emily in the Nisqually river. I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Heavenly Fathers beautiful creations and the gift of our lovely country since moving to Washington. Celebrating Emily's special choice out in the wilderness was just extra special. Emily wanted to be baptized out in nature and I thought it would be a really neat experience to be baptized as Jesus Christ himself was, in a river. We held the program in a group camp ground. Grandpa Wilcox played the guitar as we sang and all around us we had peace and beauty. Emily's favorite song is "A Child's Prayer" and she picked it to sing for the opening song. I have never sang that song to my children. It is such a beautiful song. I did fine conducting until the second verse when I couldn't sing another word and keep control of the tears. What a beautiful verse. Everything a Mother wants er child to know and feel. We listened to a talk on baptism by Emily's Grandma Wilcox and headed to the river to watch as Emily and Dave walked out into the green Nisqually. After the Baptism we went back to the camp ground for the talk on the Holy Ghost by Grandma DeWitt and then Emily was confirmed by her family and the fathers of all of her friends (David, Grandpa DeWitt, Grandpa Wilcox, Great Uncle Noh, Brothers Crawford, Huillet, Baker, Robertson, Westhoff and Phillips). I hope as Emily looks back at her special day in the years to come she will remember her family who were so proud of her enthusiasm to become a member of the church, her friends who sat with their arms wrapped around her in love and brought her sweet simple gifts like pictures, and the families of her friends who all came out to support her that beautiful morning.

Best Things About Camping

A week ago, it already feels like forever, we went camping over in Belfair on the Hood Canal. We went with our friends the Huillets and Bakers and were latter joined for the day by the Westhoff family. We had a great time despite some bad weather. Here in photographic documentation are the the things we all love best about camping.

Getting Messy


Smores and other great campfire food
(yes she did eat the WHOLE thing!)

Hiking (in this case we were rained out momentarily)

Adventures (this trip included canoeing, a geo cache hunt and unearthing and floating a very unseaworthy raft)
I have to say that the rafting adventure might take the cake for this camping trip. What children are lucky enough to live our Tom Sawyer /Huck Finn esk... dreams in todays soo modern world? The kids found the raft, or whatever it was in its first life, buried in sea weed on the shore. It took them a while with lots of hard and yucky work to unearth it and then lots of muscle to pull it out of the mud. The had the greatest time taking turns setting off into the sunset with the help of Adam's canoe ores. No one ever mad it far before the raft began to sink or someone (KATIE) had to be rescued. But what a fantastic memory! It was the perfect end to a lovely summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Pajamas

These are Katie's new Pajamas! I made them myself with some help from my very clever friend Jamie. Kate picked out the fabric. No surprise that she went with Kitty cats! We were supposed to make them out of a pillow case (it would have needed even less sewing, but we couldn't find anything cute) She loves them. She told me this morning that she was going to sleep in them every night!