Tuesday, June 30, 2009

photo album

Tonight Cooper was looking at our photo album.  

(No, I do not scrapbook.  I tried.  I failed.  Blame it on my ADD.  A few years ago I found some albums at Costco that I could just stick the pictures into.  Easy Squeesy, just my style.)

Cooper does not just look at pictures.  He's a conversationalist.  He wants to talk about every single picture, and it's hilarious to me (and sometimes exhausting).

"That's you Mommy?  That's you?"


"That's Daddy, Mommy?  That's Daddy?"


"Who's that Mommy, who's that?"

"That's Uncle Chris."

"Oh, Uncle Chris.  I like him."

"Who's that Mommy?  Who's that?"

"That's Grandpa."

"Oh, Grandpa."

"That's Grandpa, Mommy?  That's Grandpa?"


"I love him."


Once Brent was done brushing Mercedes' teeth, he joined in the great fun.

"What's that Daddy?  That's Mickey Mouse?"

"No.  That's a rat."

My head immediately popped up.  I don't remember having a rat-picture in our photo album.

Me:  "That's not a rat, Cooper.  That's Chuck E. Cheese."

Cooper:  "Oh, that's a mouse?"

Brent:  "No Cooper, that's a rat.  A RAT."

I got to go with my cousins to Chuck E. Cheese for my fourth and fifth birthdays, and therefore hold him close to my heart.  I guess that Brent didn't have a similar experience.  

So I asked Brent what he has against Chuck E Cheese.

"Nothing.  Isn't that a rat?  It looks like a rat.  Haven't you seen Ratatouille?  It looks just like Ratatouille's dad."

i am so lucky

For the past few days, I've been going through my old photos.  I've had a nagging feeling for a few years now that I need to get all of them scanned.  They're all turning colors and just plain getting old.  So, as part of my organization process, I'm finally doing it.  

It's so great to look at the old pictures!  The kids love looking through our albums.  Cooper gets super excited and yells, "That's Daddy!"  and "That's you, Mommy!"  

I found this card in my photo box and was reminded of how fortunate I was in high school to have the most wonderful friends in the world.  

I think I was grounded for... ditching.  Yup.  Don't tell my kids!  Once again I'm reminded that: #1- I definitely married "up," and #2- I married my polar opposite.  That's why we get along so well, I guess.  From First Grade on, Brent NEVER missed a day of school.  He didn't stay home sick.  He didn't ditch.  Once in Dental School, he came home early with the flu.  That's it.  I, on the other hand, always longed to be free; to be anywhere other than where I was "supposed" to be.  I missed school whenever I got the chance!  

So one day my junior year of high school, while my parents were out of town, a group of us went to my house when we were supposed to be in school.  (We had an open campus, and had cars).  I think that we watched a movie.  And got caught.  By the sister missionaries!  They lived with us at the time, and for some reason I didn't even consider the possibility of them catching us.  I don't remember who was there, but my guess is April, Stacey, Sonja and Alan J. 

At least we weren't watching an R-rated movie!  That's where I was so fortunate: because even though we did things that we weren't supposed to (ditching, toilet papering, ghosting, etc.), we didn't do "bad" things.  We went to church dances, the temple, seminary, efy and firesides.   We talked about the scriptures and our testimonies.  We went heart-attacking - ALOT.  We spent the night at April's house because she didn't have a curfew (I had a 12pm one), but we didn't do bad things.  

I am so grateful.

kung-fu chris

Right now, Mercedes is sitting on the couch with Cooper, watching Sesame Street.  I've been reading the news online.  Since we lost our "free" cable, I have no idea of what's going on in the world! 

Just now, Mercedes suddenly exclaimed, "Mama! Mama!"

She always waits for me to respond in order to be certain that she has my undivided attention.

"Yes, Mercedes?  I'm listening."

"You know that movie Kung-Fu Panda?"


"Well, the guy that is on the Kung-Fu Panda movie (which we haven't seen) is on Sesame Street.  And you know what?  He kind of looks like Chris."

"I think so too."

I can't ever look at Jack Black without thinking that he looks A LOT like my brother, I just didn't expect for Mercedes to notice the same thing.

(Maybe not in this picture, but usually his hair is darker and sometimes he has a full dark beard.  But unfortunately, I don't have many recent pictures of Chris.  This is from Christmas a few years ago).
Kids are smart.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a birthday for brent

Our first stop was "The Fresh Market," which is somewhat similar to Gelson's.  They have THE BEST produce that I've found around here.  We picked up four pounds of strawberries, some peaches, bananas, pineapple, an angel food cake (because I've never made one and I'm not about to start now), some whipped cream, asparagus, and herb yeast rolls.  

We made it home just in time for the boys to take a quick nap before we headed to Target and Party City.  We found a few small and silly birthday gifts (because Brent is really hard to shop for unless I've got a few thousand to spend - champagne taste, and all that), and our party supplies.  Then a quick stop at Party City for balloons, and home to make dinner.

Unfortunately, in my rush to get home I forgot an essential birthday item: candles.  Brent got home just after we did and Mercedes took him to "the pig" to buy them.  Yes, I know, it's sad.  Brent actually had to buy his own birthday candles.

While I finished preparing dinner, Brent and the kids kept busy with our birthday activity: tattoo-ing.  

It was a "Cars"- themed party, complete with tattoos, cups, plates and balloons.

We had a super yummy dinner of parmesan tilapia (because we'd had steak for Father's Day), asparagus, fruit salad, and rolls; followed with angel food cake topped with the yummiest strawberries that I have ever tasted.  Mmmmm.  

He refused to take a "normal" picture.

After dinner we all went back to Target so that he could pick out a few games for his new DS (In anticipation of a long and boring year in Afghanistan, his mom sent him one for his birthday and we've all been having a blast with it).

channeling captain feathersword

After opening presents on Father's Day morning, Cooper suddenly burst out: "I'm a pirate!"  He seriously comes up with these things on his own.  He's seen "the wiggles" maybe a few times, and definitely not recently. 

If you can't understand what he's saying, it's:  "I'm a pirate" and "me hardees!"

Also, I'm sorry about the nose picking.


I got this video after he'd already been at it for at least 30 minutes, and he was tired and ready for bed.  I can't keep him on a blanket any longer, so I've stopped trying.  When I feel guilty about letting him scoot around on our (not the cleanest) rental house carpet, Brent reminds me that Lincoln is being "immuno-desensitized" (Brent's word).  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We're getting ready!

After twelve months here, we are finally getting ready to move on.  It's possible that if we were leaving in the autumn or winter, that I might be feeling a little sad (the very littlest bit).  It's gorgeous here in the fall, and the temperature is just right.  But with the temperature currently at 101 degrees plus humidity, I am SO ready to move on!  

I have learned, though, just why everyone moves so slowly here.  I mean, the air is so thick with heat and moisture that it's hard to move through.  It's heavy.  It's almost impossible to be quick under such conditions.  My cousin is starting his basic training here next month and I can't think of anything worse. Except, maybe, living in Iceland or something.  Maybe.  

Anyway... I mentioned that we're getting ready to leave.  We've made many trips to our local thrift store.  I long ago packed up all of our books and lots of toys (I was so sick of the clutter).  Last weekend Brent made himself a dolly for moving our super-huge and heavy furniture.  Our home-teacher, who recently moved here from Maine, donated a nice stack of boxes.  Yesterday we packed our "trink-a-dinks," non-essential kitchen items, blankets and pillows.  Today we packed some more miscellaneous items and purchased boxes for our picture frames and files.  

Our stack of boxes, patiently waiting to be filled.

I just think that he is so clever.

Our attics are both filled, and now we're working on filling the garage.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

little linky-stinks

Our sweet angel is five months old today.  This picture is about a month old; our "good" camera is in the shop, so I don't have any recent pics.  I just can't get over how sweet and even-tempered he is; he definitely doesn't get his personality from me - thank goodness!  Two drama queens and one drama king is already too, too, too much drama for our little house.

See that drool?  I am amazed at how much he produces in any given five minute period.  If I don't put a bib on him as soon as he gets up, his shirt will be soaked.  We go through at least 5 bibs (or shirts) each day.  An hour after putting one on, it's completely wet.  I haven't had such a proficient drooler before, but I greatly prefer it to Cooper's constant barfing.  

And we're finally on a schedule!   Hallelujah!  Lincoln eats at 7 am (unless he wakes up early), 10 am, 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and then I wake him for his last feeding between 9:30 and 10 p.m..  I took away his fourth nap so that he'd go to bed earlier.  He has a hard time staying up for three straight hours, but a 10 o'clock bedtime is just too late for me.  This way, all the kids go to bed at around the same time, and Brent and I actually have time to talk to each other!

He is SO anxious to crawl, and works hard at it every day.  Someday soon we'll have a crawler with teeth.  They grow so quickly!  

Friday, June 19, 2009

What we're up to

We're nearing the end (we hope) of a pretty crazy year, in which:

We moved to Laguna.  
Brent graduated. 
 I got pregnant.  
We moved to South Carolina.  
We tried to adjust to the heat, humidity, trees, pollen, pine straw, dialects, 
and lack of a Costco nearby.
Brent started his residency program and learned, well... um... 
 a little bit about oral surgery and not much else.  
We learned that the people of South Carolina are WONDERFUL.
We had our first Christmas away from Utah - thanks to Brent's family for visiting us!  
We got our first choice of PCS (basically a transfer) to Ft. Lewis, Washington!!!
After carrying a gi-normous baby, and a third c-section, 
we finally welcomed Lincoln into the world. 
We found out that Brent was being deployed to Iraq.
 We adjusted to life with a newborn.  
We found out that rather than Iraq (which we greatly preferred),
Brent was being deployed to Afghanistan.
We adjusted to life with three children.  
Mercedes learned to read and to rollerblade.
Cooper learned: to talk, his colors, to watch TV, how to count to 15, 
to feed himself, to ride a scooter, about trains and tractors and buses, to enjoy nursery,
that he is scared of flies, to sleep in a real bed, 
and to be gentle with his baby brother.  
We started paying back our student loans (not so much fun).  
Lincoln learned: to eat, to put himself to sleep, to smile, to laugh, 
to roll from his tummy to his back, to roll from his back to his tummy,
 to play with toys, and to scoot.
We lost our "free" cable just in time for summer and "the big switch."
Brent began applying for an Oral Surgery Residency Program.

And now, we're packing up our house and getting ready for the next year.  

We're leaving here on July 31st, and heading back out West - yahoo!  Brent's mom has graciously offered to drive out with us (since I can't stay awake at the wheel for any substantial length of time).  He'll spend a few weeks with us in Utah (where we'll finally have Lincoln's baby blessing), and then leave us with my parents (where we'll be living while he's gone) and report for duty at Ft. Lewis, Washington on August 17th.  Mercedes will start first grade on August 20th.  Brent will probably join his assigned company in Afghanistan in mid-October.  I'm hoping that by that point, we'll be in a routine and things will run a bit more smoothly for us (knock on wood).  I'm also hoping that if Brent does get into an Oral Surgery program, we'll get to stay in Washington.  One of the six Army programs is there and I'd really like to stay close to family... but I'm getting ahead of myself as usual.  

For now, I'm just feeling grateful that we're healthy and happy.  The best part of this year has been seeing the kids learn and grow.  They are each sweet, loving, obedient, happy children.  They love each other fiercely.  Mercedes loves to read the scriptures and is excited to get baptized.  Cooper practically suffocates Lincoln with kisses on a constant basis.  Since school ended, I've been able to read with Mercedes each day during the boys' nap-time.  It's been so much fun!  I love reading chapter books like Desperaux and Junie B. Jones.  Lincoln is literally the most patient baby in the world.  He rarely cries, and spends most of his wake-time smiling, laughing, and trying to crawl.  

This isn't a great-quality video.  I was holding the camera and playing with Link at the same time:

Young Chef's Academy

Last Friday, Mercedes' good friend (and our neighbor) Kaley had her 7th birthday party at "The Young Chef's Academy."  The kids learned how to make pizza, ate their creations, and then decorated their own cupcakes.  What a fun idea for a birthday party!  

The best part?  It only lasted an hour and a half.

Kaley and Mercedes
(She's a head taller than all of her 7-year-old friends)

Not the greatest picture, I know.  But she love, love, loved the pizza.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Christmas Day, 2006

This is another of our "lost videos."  Cooper was 12 days old and I was developing my very first case of nasty mastitis.  It's so great to see Grammie again.

lost days

This is a video from August of 2006, at Brent's brother's house in Nephi.  Mercedes and her cousin, Avery, were performing for us.  I love that we can see Grammie in the background.  Don't you just love Brent's singing?

lost days

The lighting on this is absolutely TERRIBLE.  Our apartment in South Pas had little light.  But I LOVED hearing Mercedes speak.  This is on a Sunday afternoon when Mercedes was 3 1/2.  We caught her "playing primary."  It was so cute.  Once you listen to Mercedes talk, you'll understand why I'm constantly amazed at how well Cooper speaks.  He's easier to understand at 2 1/2 than Mercedes was at 4.

roly poly

Lincoln has been rolling from his back to his tummy for a while now, but I've always missed it.  Today I waited, and waited, and waited... and finally I saw it for myself! 

Monday, June 8, 2009

captain obvious

We recently bought a pair of pink rollerblades for Mercedes.  I was jealous, remembering how much I used to love rollerblading, so Brent found a pair for me.  He really had to hunt for them.  He called every sporting goods store in the Columbia area and finally found one that sold rollerblades.  They were having a sale at the time, and so I thought that I was getting a great deal: a pair of $160.00 rollerblades for less than $100.00!  

Later that night I mentioned to Brent that it would be fun if he got a pair too, then we could all go together.  The next morning on the way home from the temple, he stopped and bought a pair for himself.  He hadn't ever rollerbladed before and was excited to try them out.  

Well, after spending less than hour practicing, the latches on BOTH of his skates broke.  Real quality merchandise, no?  I had him return mine along with his, and Brent began an online search for blades that wouldn't fall apart.  

We've been waiting anxiously... and today they came.  Yea!!!  

Aren't they beautiful?

Unfortunately, Brent mistakenly ordered a size 7 for himself, rather than an 11.  Sigh.  So it's back to waiting for him.  I had fun on mine though!  The skating came back just like riding a bike.   The stopping, however, will take some practice.  I mean, it's been at least 10 years.  For now, I just roll onto the grass.  I'm grateful that Brent was thoughtful enough to also purchase some wrist guards for us.  I don't exactly have the world's greatest balance or coordination.

Mercedes has been practicing hard and is getting better each day.  I look forward to when we can take a trip around the block together.  For now, we must settle for the family bike ride.  We finally went out tonight all together.  It was fun.  Mercedes enjoyed being the leader.  It's just too bad that the bike we bought when she was three is too small for her.  (She looks like a unicycle-r when she pedals).  We bought it big, with 16" wheels, thinking that it would last for a long time.  Well, the long time has passed.  Looks like the Barbie bike will be staying here in South Carolina.  She's excited that she can now graduate to a High School Musical bike.  

She's a pretty funny girl.  Tonight as Brent was getting Lincoln out of the bike trailer, she graced us with a classic Mercedes line...

Brent:  "How're you doing there Linky-Stinks?"

Mercedes, in a scolding voice: "Daddy, he can't talk you know.  He's just a baby."

Brent:  "Well thanks, Captain Obvious!"

And earlier, when Cooper and his trike were in her way...  

"Cooper, get out of the way!  Do you want my rollerblades to roll right over you?"

calling all broadway lovers

I missed the Tony's last night.  I don't stay up late enough, and we don't have a TV with reception.  I was excited to find this.  Mercedes' favorite parts were Shrek, and seeing Megan Hilty who played "Galinda" when we saw Wicked in LA (she's now in 9 to 5).  These people are just AMAZING.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The kids had a fun-packed day yesterday.  

We started off with a bike ride.  Our neighborhood is super-small, with very narrow streets.  Yesterday the neighborhood was having "yard sale day" with yard sales in many of the driveways, and cars packing the streets.  So I did something scary.  I took them outside of our little development onto the streets with no sidewalks, no shoulder, and with double yellow lines.  Mercedes rode in front of me as I pulled Cooper in the trailer.  I about had a heart attack more than once.  I told Mercedes, "never again!"  We're excited to get to Utah where I'll feel much safer.

By the time we got home at 10:30, Brent was packed and ready to take the kids to the water-park at the base.  I stayed home with Lincoln, and enjoyed a few hours of peace and quiet.  I even snuck a nap :)!  

When they got home from the water-park, I took Mercedes to the library to sign up for their summer reading program.  Cooper was none too happy to be left behind, so Brent took him on another bike ride.  Both he and Lincoln immediately fell asleep, and Brent got some pretty hilarious pictures.

Lincoln's first time in the trailer.  He's supposed to be 6 months... but Brent's not one to follow such recommendations.
Lincoln almost always wakes up happy.
Cooper's asleep with his lips sticking out.  We call this his, "dufus face."  
Starting to wake up.  He's not one to wake up happy.

the graduate

Friday was Mercedes' last day of Kindergarten.  To celebrate, we were invited to a "Meet the Author" party.  The kids each read to their guests and then the diplomas were handed out.  Afterward, everyone enjoyed a giant ice-cream sundae bar.  I would have enjoyed myself more if I'd gotten a babysitter for the boys.  The whole time, Cooper (who does not whisper) was begging to eat some of the candy from the sundae bar, and Lincoln was hungry and tired.  I must admit that I did get teary during the slide show.  It's sometimes hard to see the kids growing so fast.  (Sorry about the blurry photos.  Our "good" camera is in the shop for repairs.)

Reading to us, "My Favorite Things."  Her class made these shirts for their "field day."  OGE stands for Oak Grove Elementary.

I just love Mercedes' teachers, Ms. Ann and Mrs. Stevenson.  They are so kind and patient.  My favorite thing about them is that they believe that learning should be fun.  The kids sang and danced every day.

Friday, June 5, 2009

he he he

I happen to think that this is funny, but some people are offended by it.  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

animal farm

our plans

We're finally starting to get back into the swing of things.  The house has still not recovered from our three weeks of sick.  I think that it will just be a mess until we leave, since now it's time to start sorting and organizing and packing.  We've got less than two months left here.  

After much deliberation, we've decided to move ourselves, rather than letting the Army do it for us.  It was such a mess last time.  For example, they used a whole large box to pack legos... wrapped in a ton of paper.  LEGOS!  I mean, come on.  We could barely fit all of the unpacked boxes into the garage.  I couldn't find anything for months.  The Army is "supposed" to pay us 95% of what it would cost them to move us.  Since they spent $25,000 to move us from California to South Carolina, we're hoping to make a profit on our move to Washington.  Brent graduates on the 29th of July and we'll be loading the truck on the 30th.  We considered using PODS, but Brent decided that we'll save a lot of money by renting a Penske.  We'll see if it's worth the headache...  Brent's mom has graciously offered to fly out and drive back with us.  I honestly can not stay awake for more than a few hours while driving, so we'll take turns.  I hope that she doesn't disown us after spending three days driving with three young kids! 

We'll drive to Utah, drop off some of our stuff there, and then Brent will drive the truck up to Olympia.  We'll keep our stuff in storage there until he gets back from Afghanistan.  Brent's date to report for service at Ft. Lewis is August 17th, so he'll have a couple of weeks to spend with us.  Then he'll probably spend two months in Washington, getting ready to ship out.  

My parents, being the greatest people in the world, have offered to let us stay with them while Brent's gone.  My dad is finishing two more rooms in the basement, so that we'll have three bedrooms and a playroom down there.  Mercedes will start first grade on August 20th.

We're not sure when Brent will get back from Afghanistan, but we're expecting it to be around July of next year.  There's so much that we don't know.  We don't know if he'll get leave to come home while he's gone.  We don't know if he'll have decent internet access, so we might not be able to do much skyping.  

I'm trying to focus on the good.  We're hoping to save some money and pay off one of our student loans.  The kids will get to know their grandparents and cousins.  Mercedes will have great friends living on our street.  Cooper will have an awesome swing set to play on.  We'll live just a few miles from the temple.  We can walk to church, rather than driving 20 minutes.  We can watch general conference on TV.  I told Mercedes that just like she sometimes has a "substitute teacher" at school, she will have a "substitute daddy."  Grandma and Grandpa can be her "substitute daddy," while he's away.  Every day I am grateful that we don't have to do this alone.  

And now, on to the packing!