Friday, August 29, 2014

The Larsen Family

Today we got to help celebrate my Aunt Janae and Uncle Eric's 25 year anniversary by going to the Boise LDS temple and watching their family get sealed.  It was a very special moment and I was so grateful I got to be a part of it.
I just love the Larsen family.  From as long as I can remember, I can recollect getting some fun gift or treat from "Janeric" for every holiday or occasion in the mail. My Aunt Janae just has a way of making people feel special when they are around her. They are some of the most thoughtful people.  It is so exciting to live close to them!
My Mom came up to visit from Salt Lake, which was also so much fun.
No, I can't ever seem to get a normal picture of my kids. Gosh. Haha.
It was a busy couple of days running around, but a total blast!

My grandpa Ogden was also there, and it was great to see him!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

William Walking

The first time I caught William crawling, it was a little lack-luster.  He wasn't very excited about it, it was kind of like, "I can crawl, so what?  Why do you keep hitting your hands together like that?"  Well, William has made up for it ten-fold in his walking ventures. This little boy is all wobbly smiles every time he journeys from one piece of furniture to another.  When he makes his destination he looks so pleased with himself and claps his hands together.  I love watching that boy walk, every time is like the first time.

I especially like when he walks towards me, because as soon as he gets close enough, he dives towards me and buries his face in my arms.  Then we clap together.
This stage has been so much fun!
Of course when I get my camera out he always biffs it!



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Feeling Nostalgic about Caity Today

It only took about an hour from the time of Caity's birth for John and me to realize we severely underestimated this "having a baby" business. I just remember sitting in that hospital room, holding that screaming bundle from heaven and looking at John, feeling panicked.  I'll never forget his face, because it  mirrored what I was feeling.  "What in the world are we supposed to do now?"  Having given birth a couple more times, I have learned there was something especially loud about that girl's cry- the nurses weren't just trying to make me feel better when they said she was a loud could hear her down the hall and out the heavy doors of the new baby wing. She made sure to let us know when she needed something.  We were just so unseasoned we had no idea what she was talking about.

But we were in love. Every yawn, stretch and reflex movement- we thought she was the most talented baby girl in the whole wide world.  Because the chord was wrapped around her neck through the 24 hours of labor, she had a strong neck and was able to hold her head up from day one. I made sure to tell everyone that. I was just so proud of what a trooper she was.  The nurses karo-syruped a little bow to her head and swaddled her like a burrito and we took about 800 pictures of her this way because at every angle we couldn't imagine anything more precious.  She made us parents. And boy, were we proud.

I remember the nurses seemed really nervous sending us home with Caity. Probably because we looked like we were in high school still.  They talked to us frequently about shaking baby syndrome, like, they made watch the video two times and it was the last thing the nurse reminded us as we pulled away from the hospital with our baby buckled in her newly-inspected car seat. No wonder though, we were so young!  We had no clue what we were doing and gosh, were we in for an adventure.

When Caity was about a week old, John returned to working the farm fields and my mom hopped on a plane returning to Washington.  It was just Caity and me.  We both caught some sickness that was going around.  I had a C-section and was still recovering, so every time I coughed, I'd feel a fit of pain.  It was hard to walk, to bend over and to even lift Caity, let alone nurse her.  For the first time since her birth, we were completely alone with each other.  She kept crying. I didn't know what to do, I tried feeding her, changing her, rocking her, but she just cried and cried and looked up at me like I was the one that was supposed to do something about it.  I remember sitting in my rocking chair and setting her on a blanket in front of me, causing her her to scream harder. I was exhausted, covered in spit up and sore all over. I looked helplessly down at her and  I just cried and I prayed, pleading with God to make her stop crying. "Just please, please, make her stop..." I remember repeating it and crying and I knew I was in completely over my head.

I remember feeling a peaceful assurance and an answer to my prayer that almost sounded like, "I won't fix this for you, but I will strengthen you so that you are able to learn this yourself so that I can work through you."   And like that, I felt peace and I felt capable.  I don't remember details, but I remember feeling a sudden strength and ability to accomplish what was ahead of me.  I picked up Caity, got her fed and changed and happy and I rocked her to sleep.  I showered.  (Yes, that deserves it's own sentence!) I went back to watch her sleep and I realized Caity wasn't sent here so I could teach her the ropes of life, but she was sent here to teach me.  I imagined us being up in heaven together as close friends and her saying, "You go ahead and I'll come down later and teach you how to become a mother. Don't worry, I'll be patient with you." She is our special little girl.  John walked through the door a couple hours earlier than I expected and I felt so grateful I could just smile and tell him everything was going OK.  We went on a walk and he went back to work.

I have gleaned from that experience time and time again, as it has become a foundation to my testimony of the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I know it's power real and I know that through my Savior I am capable of anything he needs of me.   I know Christ lives, and I hope I can live worthy that He can work through me to accomplish His work on this Earth. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Caity turns six next Wednesday and I suppose that is why I am in the nostalgic mood.  Today I dropped her off at school for her third day.  She told me her teacher specifically said that parents can't go to the play ground with the kids, and since she gets a rush from following rules- she was determined to follow through.  We got to the door by the kindergarten play ground and she looked up at me with a bit of "stage fright" and said, "I just don't know anyone, can you come and help me meet friends?"  I told her I couldn't, but I would stand by the door until I thought she was OK.  I gave her a big hug and said, "No matter what happens, in three hours we'll be waiting for you in front of the school and we'll be so excited to see you." She nodded.  I don't know how I did it, but I let her walk timidly away from me and towards the playground all by herself like a big girl.  When she turned back I just smiled as big as I could and gave her two big "thumbs up."   She awkwardly made her way to the slide and when she reached the bottom she smiled at me and mouthed "You can go, now" and gave me a thumbs up.  She was going to be alright.

Then, I turned around to find Johnny running full throttle into the cinder-block wall...and I realized, thankfully, my work was just beginning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Johnny's Car Bed

So, I mentioned earlier...we got Johnny a car bed! He has been asking for one for forever and after talking about it, we figured- "Why not?"  So, we found one within our budget and when we showed up to pick it up- yowza! It was a piece of work.  It was covered in scratches, sharpie marks and was missing its tires and it just looked....well loved- we'll go with that. :)  Since we were getting it for practically nothing, we decided to go ahead and buy it.  We talked it over and decided that car bed needed a make over!  First, we got some sand to fill up the sand box for the kids to distract them.
I think it worked. :)
 Then, we got to work:
(and I have to hand it to John, he was the only reason we have pictures of the process!)

 I am the queen of shortcuts, so normally my projects turn out spotty at best, but John insisted we prime it first (I think that was a good idea, now that it was the time, I was getting a little burnt out of our project! haha)
 After a couple coats of primer, we realized we needed more supplies, so John grabbed the boys and took them out while I unpacked the kids' rooms.
John thought it was so cute how William would drive the little cart:
 When John got back, we realized we bit off more than we could chew with spray cans, and decided to pull out John's air compressor and spray gun.

 Meanwhile, in the sand box:
 Things went significantly smoother with the spray gun.
 Caity wanted to help out too!

 I left to get a hair cut and came back to realize we were almost done! Yay!

 Meanwhile, in the sand box:

 Then, we FINALLY finished! At first, the bed didn't fit in his room and we had to rearrange everything.  It was well worth the effort though, that Johnny boy was sure excited when it was all set up!
 He was jumping all over the place shouting about his car bed.  He calls the toy box attached at end his garage, which cracks me up.  His bed has proven to be a favorite toy, and two weeks later, he still is excited to go to bed!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Caity's First Day of Kindergarten

 Caity Brassell's First Day of Kindergarten. School: Gateway Elementary. Teacher: Mrs. Wood. When I grow up I want to be: A Firefighter girl.

 (It is a Chinese Immersion School, so there is Chinese writing all over, not to mention a huge-o kung fu panda in the hallway.)
 Caity has been anticipating this day, probably her whole life.  She chose her outfit and laid it out with meticulous care last night.  She drew a picture for her teacher and she when she woke up her stomach "felt all silly" because she was so nervous.  We don't live too far from school, so we walked.  I only got a little emotional a couple of times- one was watching her walk next to me.  For the first time in forever, she had nothing to say and you can tell her mind was reeling.  At one point she said, "Every one is new in Kindergarten, right?"  As soon as we got to the school, I said, "OK! See you later!" and pretended to walk away, she looked so panicked, "But what about my classroom?" I told her I was kidding and we laughed for a little bit and I think it shook off the nerves a little bit. A million and one pictures later, we made it to the Kindergarten pod.  Her classroom was busy with kids and parents getting every thing put in the right place. We found her chair and cubby and met her teacher, Mrs. Wood (who I really love based on first impressions! It is her 1st year teaching kindergarten and she is from Pullman, which is 5 minutes from Moscow. She seems like she will do a great job.)  She told Caity that she was new too and that made Caity feel awesome.  As I was getting ready to leave, I gave that little big girl of mine a hug and said, "Just remember, everyone else is nervous too, so you can be nice and help them feel better and it will make you feel better too."  And she looked at me like I was crazy, "I'm not nervous, I'm excited!"  OK- never mind then. :)   It was easy leaving her because I was excited for her.
I turned around in time to see her softly trying to talk to Trevon, the boy next to her, but he was so shy he just stared at her and she awkwardly looked at her desk like she didn't know what to do at that point.  She looked so grown up in that little desk, I got a little emotional again (I know, I know, get a grip, she is only going to be gone 3 hours...) but my sweet little girl is about to undertake such a fun adventure and I am just so excited for her. It has gone by so fast.  I snapped one last picture and turned around to find her brothers waiting not-so patiently to get out of that mad house.  So we left.  And Johnny and I are counting down until we get to go pick her up again, because she has quite the fan club between the two of us!

When we picked her up from school, it made me feel so happy that the moment she saw us, she took off running- we were excited to see her too!  The next ten minutes were filled with her excited chatter about school. "My teacher is so wonderful." Then she basically skipped her whole way home.
Now, I asked her to tell me in her own words:
"My teacher was really fun. We even got to speak chinese, there's a Chinese teacher. And we got to play outside...recess! for only five minutes. It was short, but we still had fun. And we also what was it? We also didn't do any homework! We got to read a book and I didn't have to read it on my first day of kindergarten, our teacher read it to us. Hmmm..OK. Let me think what else.  Oh! We got to color. We didn't have any toys, but that's OK because we colored.  And we did "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" in Chinese. And if we get ten points from our teacher we get to hold the panda bear. And you get panda points. I think my, she's nice. It's her first day of kindergarten too, she doesn't get her mean voice out and I think that's it."

John and I talked about starting a tradition where we got to Dairy Queen on the first day of school, so that is something to look forward to for tonight! Can't wait to hear about John's Boise Orientation and everything.

Dad's Return and Floating the Boise River

Well, we were so glad for Daddy to get home, glad as we could be!
William decided he wanted to be on the welcoming committee and was up at 2:00 am waiting for his dad! (who he didn't quite recognize at first...)
 Caity requested that Dad wake her up when he gets home, you should have seen the smile on her face, she was so excited to see her best friend, Dad! It was pretty cute.  The next morning was filled with fast talking (to update Dad on everything) and speedy running around the house and wrestling and all sorts of things that didn't happen so frequently with dad gone.

 John and Caity climbing trees together.
Johnny wasn't quite up to it yet.

But him and Dad had a merry little sword fight!
And they played the piano together. 
(William loves that thing!)

Well, Saturday being our last day until School started, we thought it would be fun to go float the Boise river!
 It was so much fun.  It was absolutely gorgeous, Idaho has really grown on me these last 9 years living here. Boise has proven to have it's own beauty as well. The green trees up against the rolling brown hills, just so breath taking.  
It was only like 70 degrees, so it was a little chilly, but not bad. Well, I guess it depends on who you ask- Johnny was all shivers, and I suppose my jaw was pretty sore from shivering the whole time.
 You start at Barber Park and take out at Ann Morrison Park, along the Boise river there are pathways for the Greenbelt, and people were walking and biking.  We'll have to put that on our bucket list.  You wouldn't guess with how pretty and peaceful it was that we were floating right through the city of Boise.

Everyone told us it was a family friendly float, but I think we severely underestimated it.We took black inter-tubes and had it been just John and me, I think we would have been fine and it would have been a good time...but add three helpless-can' got a little complicated. :)  

I am glad my paranoid self convinced John to rent life jackets for the kids, (and since he had missed me so much the last week- he caved without much effort- haha) But seriously, I am pretty sure our kids would have drowned otherwise!  It got a little crazy in parts. Not to mention, my inter-tube was leaking the entire time, so I was basically floating the entire river with nothing, my legs are bruised and scratched up, as is my bum and stomach (I tried a few positions.)  I have always loved a good float and used to do it all the time in college, but adding kids to the equation sure freaked me out a little.  Like, 10 seconds into it, I was ready to turn around, swim up stream and give up!  But you'd be proud of me...I didn't do that! (The river was too fast for me to swim upstream...ha ha)  It took about half a second for Johnny to flip completely over in his tube, like, we hadn't even reached the current yet (thankfully)! So he was pretty done at that point too.  Him and I stuck together for the first part and he proudly said, "Mom and me are both scared, so we stick together, right, mom?)  Caity said, "You're crazy. I'm comfortable."  And she just lounged in that tube like it was a hammock and she was ready to go to sleep.  William shared a tube with John and he did pretty well, so long as John kept him entertained.

There were a lot more rapids than we anticipated. Had we been on a raft like everyone else, we would have been fine....but given the circumstances, it was a little chaotic and though not life-threatening...terrifying for this mama. We would laugh after each little set of rapids, but during the ordeal I think I might of yelled something like, "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIIE!"  Then Johnny would look at me all terrified and scream and I would have to be like, "Just kidding buddy, we're not going to die, we're having fun, we're having fun."  Caity thought it was all funny. At some point we lost another inter-tube and Johnny moved into John's tube with William. 

Caity got stuck on some stick coming out of the water at some point, and being all Super mom, I crashed over to the side (breaking a toe and slamming my ankle on a rock and giving a shin a gash) After laboring to reach her, I was about a foot away (from being about 30 feet down stream) she figured out how to un-stuck herself, haha.  So then, it was a mad dash, tripping over rocks to get back to my un-flated tube and then trying to swim out to get her.  Thank goodness for water moccasins. Yes, I wear them. No, I rock them... like it is still the 1980's. Like, in other words, I take off my chacos to put on my super-cool, turquoise water moccasins.  

Anyway, situations like operation- Caity repeated themselves over and over again!  Someone getting too far ahead, or left behind, or hit in the face with tree roots...and John and I trying to get over to help them.  I have to hand it to John, he kept us pretty close together the entire time.  Johnny was so terrified of the rapids, he would scream every time heard splashing, which would in turn cause William to scream.  We were so cold and exhausted by the time we finished!  We just got destroyed by all the rapids, like completely soaked every time! I would be behind John and the boys and see a splash go completely over them like a tidal wave knowing Caity and I would have to go through it next. Not to mention- I didn't have a tube, so my bum would take a beating! John offered to trade, but I didn't trust myself with William, I'd take the bad tube any day.  Now, I am probably exaggerating when I say "rapids"  I just can't think of a better way to describe the turbulent parts- and they seemed pretty treacherous from our little tubes!

I can honestly say we had a good time- we just learned some lessons for the future, like taking a raft for the kids or something.  When pulled over into Ann  Morrison park, Johnny and William were both fast asleep, so it couldn't have been SO bad. Caity has been wearing the experience like a badge of honor. She is pretty proud of herself.

The kids were excited to hop on the school bus to take us to back to our car.  Since William and Johnny took a power nap on the river, they were in quite the chipper mood!  

Despite what it sounds like from my writing- I am so excited to go do it again. (Just with a raft next time! haha) 

Sunday, after church, we had a barbeque and had a family meeting to talk about goals for the school year and John gave the kids blessings. We are going to try to be better about family prayer and scripture study every day and Family Nights once a week.  One day at a time and I think we can get it going...just kidding, we just have to put Caity in charge of it and she'll make sure we get it done! Haha, my little walking day timer! It was a good weekend and boy, is it nice having that John Calhoun back!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Missing Calhoun

As of this very minute, it has been exactly 7 days since I have seen that John Calhoun #4.  John has been up in Moscow, Idaho for the last week doing some Mock Trial class on steroids.  There have been a lot of late nights studying and I am sure he is happy to have it all done with.  Considering his life is probably miserable with out me :).....I think he is having a good time up there.  He has gotten to see a lot of our friends and I think he has had fun working on his litigation skills.  Meanwhile, I'm down here feeling like half myself with him gone!  Johnny has pointed more than once that I have been talking to myself. Ahem. Maybe that was too much to divulge's more just thinking outloud, if you will.  
Caity felt sorry for me and made me a stand-in husband for the week:
It was almost like the read thing.
Paper-John wasn't as good of a kisser- kidding! Ew. You're disgusting. 
He's a great listener though, just kidding again, remember? I talk to myself these days? :) Anyway, I thought it was sweet of Caity.

I am beyond excited for John to come home today. 
I, get this:
Made homemade apple pie! 
Completely from scratch!  I can take that off my bucket list now.  This is John's favorite dessert, so I am excited for him to get home so we can dig in!  I am really proud of myself.  I know some betty crocker somewhere is like "Yeah whatever, it's a pie" but I'm over here like, "Umm HELLO! It's a pie! I made A PIE!"  ha ha.
I have also unpacked a few boxes, seen a few friends, had my Aunt Janae's family over, and did a few crafts:
OK, all I really did here was paint the pitcher.  But if you could have seen the psychedelic flying snowmen ,you would totally appreciate the transformation.

I also made a sunflower wreath! Yay! Welcome to our home! I actually took the "B" off, because it proved to be bit much.  But I like the way it turned out. in the end.
And thanks to Whitney lending me some chick-flicks, I have had a Sandra Bullock marathon over the course of the week to drown out the creaks and noises House makes in the night. 
It has been a decent week.
But I am oh so ready for that John of mine to get back here!

This morning, I woke up around 6:30 am, snuck from my bed, to not wake Johnny who somehow ended up there, and walked into the kitchen and I saw this out my window: 
They were just up playing together in the sand box.
What an adorable big sister. And what a sweet scene to take in on my Friday morning.

 Johnny stacking car towers in our bedroom.
Caity singing a song that I kid you not, went like this: "Guitar, guitar, guitar, my guitar." in the same note. Repeat.
Silly girl.

We've kept each other company but we are all counting the minutes until Dad walks through the door. The kids have made "Welcome Home" signs and I have been listening to country music smiling to myself all day. John has been the one constant in all of our moves and vacations over the past 7 years and besides Special Olympics in China 5 years ago, we haven't spent more than a night apart (and even that is rare.)  So it has been weird.  It has also made me appreciate him a lot more.  The first few nights, though I kept busy, I felt kind of empty and lonely inside. At first I thought, "What is wrong with me that I can't stand being alone for a couple days."  But then I came to terms with it and compare it to eating a potato plain verses with salt and butter.  John is my salt and butter, and life just tastes better with salt and butter, you know what I mean?  No, I don't know why I have to relate everything to food.
But you get the idea, I miss that guy.
Get home already, John! :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Caity's Tree and a Picnic

Caity has dubbed this tree "hers"

 For now, it works because Johnny is too scared to climb up it...
 She is hoarding all sorts of lovely treasures up there: her sippy cup, crayons and paper, along with her "special rock" that she wants to keep hidden from the boys.
Wiliam is loving the sounds he can make scraping different objects against the ground.  He is also understanding me a lot more lately. For example, when I was feeding him dinner (yes, he let me feed him!) he kept standing in his chair.  I would tell him to sit down and he'd look at me cautiously and then squat his chubby little legs down and smile at me expectantly.  When he was ready for another bite, he would slap the table like a viking or something, I swear I heard him say something like, "Feed me, woman."  He needs to learn some manners. :)

Speaking of William's manners:
Johnny and I thought that a picnic seemed an idyllic way to spend our lunch hour. And it was.  Until I went inside. Then I heard screams and "Get off, William!" and "Noooooo, that was mine!" and remembered who exactly I was dealing with here.  
William went all Godzilla on our picnic. 
All the plates were over turned and the kids were crying as William eagerly stuffed his face with anything he could get his hands on.  At least HE had a good time. :) 
Johnny ate his new lunch hiding under the kitchen table with chairs barricading him and Caity surrendered to her tree with her's. 
 And out the window went our family "outing."  So I just kind of let Wills at it and he was in baby buffet heaven.  And I just loved watching him do what he does best: destroy things and get away with it. :)

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