Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

Hi, I'm Susie. You can find out all about me, or just read my journal.

[No comments] The Psychology of Laundry: I recently decided to do laundry less frequently. This doesn't, of course, decrease the amount of laundry I have to do. But it makes me feel like I am doing less. It takes up one out of 5 days instead of one out of 3.

Instead of doing laundry when the baskets are full, I stamp the clothes down and wait until it "needs" to be done. My limiting factor at the moment is Dalton's pajamas. When he runs out, I need to do laundry. I think if I get him another pair I can go a week.

This leaves me with three loads of clothes to wash, instead of two, but it's not really any more work. Also, it means I can do a load of whites, a load of whatever's in my basket, and a load of the kids' basket. Which equals less sorting! I can just take the load from the kids' basket and sort it onto their beds. My kids are very good about putting their laundry away. Dalton still makes me sort and fold his, but they haven't complained about putting the laundry away in a long time. Sometimes I just leave it on their beds and don't even remind them.

I sorted and folded the remaining two loads on my bed, hung up the adult clothes, and put away any miscellaneous kid stuff that was in our basket. Sienna's just got thrown in a pile, since she is usually asleep when I fold laundry. And, for once, I felt a sense of accomplishment when the laundry was done!

[No comments] Goal Setting: After Maggie's promotion to level 5 at swim lessons last week, Dalton decided that he was going to be level 3 this week. To be level 3 (which he was actually at two years ago), you have to basically swim the width of the pool without the instructor helping you. I told him he had to do three rollovers in a row all on his own. He's been talking about it all week.

I was quite surprised to observe Dalton willingly swimming under water during play time while waiting for his lesson. It kind of reminded me of the time Maggie suddenly figured out how to keep water out of her nose and burst into her swimming skill. Suspiciously enough.

Sure enough, when it was Dalton's turn in his lesson, he just busted it out and swam the entire width of the pool. The instructor and I looked at each other in pleasant surprise, and he did it three or four more times. Level 3!

He is so proud of himself. I praised him for setting a goal (and explained what that was), trying his best, and succeeding.

[No comments] What Do We Do With a Lazy Baby: There is no kind of pleasure like ride on the lazy river while snuggling a baby. Except maybe a speed boat ride while snuggling a baby. Apparently this is my kind of paradise.

John took the day off work and we went I Legoland. Unfortunately it was so crowded from spring break. We went on a handful of rides then decided to test our luck with the water park. It was in the low 60s and overcast so the water park wasn't at all crowded. Dalton got on the water slides with his tippie toes so john took the big kids on that while Sienna and I rode the lazy river around and around. At first she wasn't too sure of the baby tube (with a sealed hole) but she got over to and had a great time. She really didn't even get wet at all. I got her some giant Legos to chew on and we snuggled and I sang along to The Beach Boys while I pushed her floatie. Seriously a fantastic way to spend an hour.

[No comments] Dalton is Adorable.: Yesterday the kids went to "spring camp" at the gymnastics place. I sent Dalton over to find his name tag while I signed the kids in. I heard him ask "which one says, 'Dalton'?" and the girl next to me said, "YES! Dalton's adorable!" She was one of the gym team helpers, remembered him from Summer Camp, and was so excited he was in her group. It made my morning.

When I picked him up, she asked if he was coming back the next day. I told her he'd be here for summer camp. I'm sure he'll be looking out for her practicing during his class, as well.

Oh, and I saw another teenage girl CARRYING him around the gym. What a schmoozer.

But I Can't Close My Eyes for 1 Minute: Dalton has had even more trouble sleeping than usual lately. He often refuses to go to bed. A new rule of no treats the next day if he doesn't go to bed has helped somewhat. He says he can't close his eyes for that long. He will claim he is afraid of something, or try to sleep on the floor in the hallway because he wants to wake up when we wake up in the morning. He doesn't want to miss anything. I keep pointing out that staying up until 9:30 makes him so tired in the morning that he won't wake up at all! He is always sad in the morning when he wakes up and Daddy is gone. He bursts into tears once the realization hits.

One funny thing is that sometimes John and I will be downstairs watching TV and we can hear Dalton not going to bed. We'll come up and see him asleep in our bed, or on the floor, or somewhere silly.

He also comes into our room in the night, which had stopped for some time. Last night I heard him tell John that he'd had a bad dream. We usually let him sleep in our bed until the teeth gnashing drives me crazy and I put him back in bed. The other night when I was sick, I had to wake John up to put him back in bed.

Part of the reason is this so annoying is that I've long felt Dalton doesn't get enough sleep. He often acts irritable, the kind of irritable that comes from an empty belly or an afternoon slump. The irritable of a two year old who's missed his nap. So, when he has trouble going to sleep at night, I have trouble with him behaving the next day.

On the bright side, he's had nearly all dry diapers at night all of a sudden. I've been buying the little packs of 23, but I got a good deal, so I bought two big bags of pull-ups. He's on his last one or two diapers before I open those packs. It's like he was waiting for me to invest in his bed wetting.

Spring Break: Determined to do Spring Break right. That is, not spend the whole week fighting with my kids.

I am ridiculously excited for beach day. I love the beach and it's even more fun with friends. (It's double fun with John AND friends, but that rarely happens.) We are also going to IKEA, swim lessons, the park, and the kids have a full-day of gymnastics camp. No kids from 9-3! That will coincide with the finishing of Maggie's flower girl dress, hopefully.

We had a really nice day all home together on Saturday when John was working, and I'm hoping that can repeat. Times 7 more, and then Maggie can go back to school. That's the plan.

Grandma Pat: Today, we had a girls dinner with Aunt Pat, Shannon, and Leah who are in town (ish) for a cheerleading competition. It was so good to see them. Pat took a turn holding Sienna on her lap, which involves actual holding on tight, and maybe getting a little wet when she dribbles a glass of water all over herself.

I was reminded of Pat's awesome grandma-ness. She is a nice blend of grandma-spoiley, hot chocolate after dinner, make you fancy breakfast in the morning, and enforcing your rules, helpful, keeping your kid from getting trampled. I think she's just wonderful and I'm glad we were able to see her today.

Leah and Maggie had a good time bonding over Rainbow Magic books and gymnastics tricks and jumps.

Bleh: I got food poisoning or something Wednesday night, and then spent all day Thursday lying in bed trying to recover.

Jack Frost Tag: We dropped by the park for a few moments after school. Even though I had to wake up Sienna for minimum day, and it was almost 90 degrees. Dalton soon came crying. "Maggie wants me to be Jack Frost but I want to be a fairy." Apparently, Maggie had invented a game of tag. Jack Frost had to tag one of the fairies, then it was that fairy's turn to be Jack Frost. Very clever, if poorly explained to her brother. Especially since she claimed she picked him to be Jack Frost because he runs so fast.

And then, of course, on the crowded playground, four year old Dalton was unable to catch any of the fairies. He fell and scraped his arm and we immediately left. Is it so unreasonable to expect Maggie to be nice to her brother in front of her friends? We had a discussion in the car (Dalton crying over his injury) and Maggie admitted a game of tag isn't much fun if you are It and can't tag anyone. It makes you want to quit. A clever game, yes. But only as fun as you make it.

**Inspired by Rainbow Magic fairy books.

Babysitter: Maggie paid Dalton one penny to watch Sienna so she could play dinosaurs in peace (I wonder where she got that idea). He did a great job. They went in her room and he read her stories until she banged on the door and I took pity and let her out.

Heater: I don't know what's worse, Sienna crying in the night for no reason, or Sienna crying in the night for good reason. She was super warm when I got her at 3:15. I could feel the heat radiating off of her before I picked her up. I gave her some Advil and nursed her until her fever went down a little. Poor, sweet *yawn* thing.

Conference Weekend Notes: I've decided to try parting Sienna's hair on the right side, since 10 months of parting it on the left has had no effect.

There's a fine line between getting the kids interested in Conference and getting anything out of it ourselves.

Sienna loves to give me kisses. She also loves to climb on me, especially if I'm doing something. Like a cat.

Since Maggie was able to sit up, I've enjoyed playing the piano with her on my lap. One day it evolved into her dancing while I played. I picked out Minuet in B-flat major by Johann Sebastian Bach, which Snoopy dances to in It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. The kids still love dancing to that. Unfortunately, our piano isn't in the living room so I miss most of the action. Also my fingers are clumsier on the keys than they should be. We spent 20 minutes yesterday playing recognizable classics. Sienna was happy to bop and run around with the big kids.

Maggie's wanted to be a trapeze artist since we read If I Ran the Circus and watched some YouTube videos. This week I learned my cousin is taking a trapeze class. I looked it up and, unbelievably even a 7 year old can take a 2 hour flying trapeze class just over at the fairgrounds. Now I have to think of an excuse to buy it for her.

I can't believe I'm having this conversation with my four year old at 9:15 at night. "If I give you a carrot will you go back to your own bed?" Except that it seems oddly familiar. Like it's happened before. Earlier this week. It worked. At least for as long as it took him to eat the carrot.

Sienna has a California baby farmer tan. I mean it's April. She must have Maggie's quick-tan capabilities.

We don't take library books in the bath tub.

I am so ready for Maggie to go back to school. It's going to be a long week of minimum days and busy season. Why do my kids fight all the time? And not listen? And they are so loud! Add in all three of them having colds and Sienna's teething. Bleh.

Today's Goals: I woke up with some pretty specific goals in mind for today.

Survive preschool
Do laundry
Make dinner

I got all that accomplished with the added bonus of finding the other piece of Dalton's scooter at school (yep) and reading lots of books with the kids. Preschool was actually really fun. We had yummy treats, made fun crafts and played with homemade slime. And dinner was good too. I made homemade pizza, half with just pesto and cheese and it was yummy.

We Seek After These Things: Since we have two weeks between church meetings because of General Conference, the kids are learning the 13th Article of Faith. Maggie just has to remember it from when she learned them all last year. This is her last one and soon she'll be the proud owner of a giant bag of whatever candy she wants. We have a CD with the Articles of Faith songs on it, and it happened to be playing in the car when I picked her up from school. She sang along, in front of her friend and proudly told me that she had been singing it quietly at school to practice it.

Dalton is actually suddenly amazing at memorizing them as well. That's why the CD was on in the car. He'll have no trouble getting it memorized in two weeks. I've also enjoyed explaining to him what it means. We believe in being good! He loves the word "benevolent" but today he said, "I don't want to be nice to mean people." I reminded him of a story we read together in The Friend of someone being nice to a mean person who is later nice to them. He pondered that.

This is my favorite Article of Faith. It's another explanation of why Mormons are so nice. I feel like it justifies my creative impulses, including child-rearing. I'm seeking after things virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. If my own children can fit that definition, I think I'll have done well on this earth.

Love Me, Love Me: Wednesday I spent an unusual amount of time playing with the kids. I try to spend half an hour or so just snuggling them, tickling them, goofing around every day. It was an early out day, and John was working at home, so we tried to stay downstairs. I finished a puzzle game the kids and I were doing on the ipad. We read stories, looked at Maggie's new Lego sets and did lots of tickling.

When Maggie was at school, we had bonus play time as well. In fact, the day began with Dalton handing me books to read. We also played hide and seek, which I normally don't enjoy doing, but it was fun enough for 10 or 15 minutes. Playing is boring. I'm glad they have each other.

I've wondered if giving the kids more attention would make them less grumpy with each other. It worked, yesterday at least. Maggie and Dalton fought much less than usual.

What Would You Ask If You Had Just One Text?: Today Dalton and I were looking through the Friend together. There was an Easter countdown activity. The activity for one day asked, "What can you do to help you think about Jesus during the Sacrament?"
D: I can be quiet. I can not talk.
Me: What about draw a picture of Jesus? Or look at pictures of Jesus?
D: Yeah. Or I could send him a message [text]. "I miss you. You died."

Some older Dalton sillies I wrote down.

Correcting Maggie on what Sienna was eating: Not sweet potatoes. Ma Tate Toes. (tomatoes)

Me: How's your cherry ice cream?
Dalton: Good, but I don't like the craisins.

Like Riding a Bike: A friend recently convinced me to take her bike trailer. And borrow her bike so it would be useful. To get the bike home, I had to ride it, and to ride it, I had to find someone to watch my kids. That happened today. I didn't think riding a bike a little over a mile back to my house would be a big deal but it kind of was. I had no trouble balancing, but my legs got tired really fast. Plus, it's a mountain bike and had gears and such that I did not understand. I probably would have had an easier time if I knew what I was doing with the gears. And if I wasn't so out of shape! It's going to be a while before I can pull the kids in a trailer.

Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax: Hmm. I'm surprised to see that I've been blogging about every other day because it feels like I haven't been doing it much at all.

I love friends. I went out with a bunch of ladies last night. We were saying goodbye to one friend who is moving, so it wasn't technically a happy occasion, but I'm from a family that throws parties instead of funerals, and girls are fun, so fun we had.

I actually made a good dinner, so I just ordered a piece of cheesecake. Even then I couldn't eat it all. Dalton and Sienna were pretty happy about that this morning.

Cake aside, it was great to get out and discuss things like books, movies, nail polish, food, annoying visiting teachers, naughty kids... and even things that I don't care or know anything about like TV shows and curling irons and how my super-awesome friends run so fast. It's just so refreshing after a day of "gee kee!" and "I ate two apple slices, can I have a treat?"

Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord: Today in Primary three of the children acted out the parts of three witnesses of the resurrected Lord. A sweet young girl stood with a scarf over her head and read the story of Mary Magdalene searching for Jesus in his tomb, seeing the angels, and The Lord himself speaking to her. As she read, I realized something I may have known for a while... The story of the resurrection, and Mary Magdalene's part in particular, is very special to me.

No matter how many times we've done resurrection eggs, I still get teary when the twelfth egg is opened and is empty, like the tomb. Mary saw that empty tomb. She heard the angels tell her "he is not here: for he is risen as he said." She saw Christ standing in the garden, heard him ask why she wept. "Jesus said unto her, Mary." He called her by name and she fell at his feet to worship him.

I have a testimony of a lot of aspects of the Gospel. I believe many things. But I know that Christ lives again, that he showed himself to Mary in the garden, even before he had ascended, because he loved her.

Here's a Bible video of this scene.

Time for the Temple: This week our Relief Society had a temple night activity. A friend picked me up, which is always more fun. A bunch of the ladies met for dinner at Pacific Whey Cafe, which was so good. Maybe I've finally found a good place to eat... far enough that I don't go broke eating there.

Then we went to a session at the Newport Beach Temple. John and I just went to the temple a couple weeks ago. That was also an 8:00pm session and it was nice to go, and especially nice to be out with John, but I mostly just felt tired. But this time was one of the best temple experiences I've had in recent memory.

I've had inspiration in the temple before, promptings and feelings related to temple work, genealogy and my family's work, answers to questions, and learned a lot of things. This was different. I wasn't tired at all, I felt like I learned new things from different phrases used, and mostly I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace. Part of that is probably because I'm surrounded by chaos or the remnants thereof everyday. Sienna, while not nearly as bad as most children, is much more destructive and tornado-like than the first two. Add that to the fighting constantly happening when Maggie and Dalton are in the same building... well, even just the "peace and quiet" peace at the temple is amazing. But it was definitely something more than that, and I'm very grateful for it.

I counted 18 sisters from our ward in the session, all of whom I know personally and many of whom I'd consider to be my friends. It was a great blessing to be surrounded by their love, even without speaking, being united in service, and dare I say, righteousness.

The Evil Hour: Sienna cried in the car on the way to the library yesterday so I turned on the CD player. We don't listen to music much these days. The kids' Primary CD came on and the first song was Choose the Right. I was singing along, because I'm an annoying mom like that, and then I heard this part:

Choose the right! Let no spirit of digression overcome you in the evil hour.
The evil hour. If you've ever tried to make dinner with a toddler underfoot, you know what I'm talking about. Everyone's whining (including you). There may be some yelling (and it may be you). Dinner may or may not eventually get finished, and may or may not even be eaten by little pickies.

With that thought in mind, I considered the rest of the words of the song. It could either be really good advice for getting through that rough time of day, or at least a good laugh to get you through it. Think about it.

In the meantime, Sienna was so annoying during dinner that I let her cry in her crib so I could eat in peace. John reminded me later that she is cutting molars, so I'll cut her some slack and be more patient now.

Today Went Fast: The nice thing about 9:00 church is that there's an entire glorious Sunday to relax afterwards. Sienna refused to nap (?? She's actually been really good lately!) so we went swimming after church and tried out the motorized floatie squirty boat Maggie got for her birthday. It was a hit! The other kids at the pool were very interested as well. Sienna had a great time in her baby float. We also sat around, played Lego, and had "family races" on the trail near our house. And I read most of a book.

Today did not go as planned. Dalton didn't wake up until 11, and even that required me to wake him several times. In the meantime, I did my cleaning, laundry, and finished the book I started on Sunday. I failed to get Sienna to take a short morning nap, so we headed off to the Relief Society lunch with a napless baby and breakfastless boy. Sienna crawled around like a maniac in the backyard and Dalton had fun with his friends, the trampoline, and his Angry Birds Princess Leia stuffed animal.

Funny interjection about Sienna. I heard her crying in the house and went around looking for her, trying to follow her echoing cries. She had climbed up to the first landing on the stairs and was standing there unsure what to do next.

After the lunch, we hung out at the park until it was time to get Maggie from school. Then we came home, Sienna took a nap, and Kate came over to play. I sat on the couch for half an hour playing Candy Crush and reading Rainbow Magic Fairies with the kids. Then I decided I needed to do stuff. I took my B vitamin, had a big drink of water and an apple and got going. I made a yummy parmesan pasta dish for dinner, finished the laundry, dealt with crazy-grump post-nap baby, and cleaned up the kitchen 5 times. Happily, my slump went away. Once Kate left, Maggie buckled down and did her chore, her piano, and her math homework. She got to read Harry Potter with Daddy before bed.

After Sienna went to bed, I went to Walmart. I'd been planning to go in the morning, but obviously that didn't work out. I don't like shopping at night, but it was nice not to have to think around the kids' noise. I thought I'd try to keep the bill under $100. I got a lot of great deals, but I also had to buy a lot of hygiene stuff. In the end I spent $104 after coupons, and submitted for $3.50 in rebates, so pretty close!

After Walmart, I made a stop at my friend's house to pick up Princess Leia. Yep. When I came in the house with my first load of groceries, there was bleary-eyed Dalton waiting for his friend. He went to sleep shortly after that, and I'm going to call 9:15 good for a boy who slept until 11!

My Boy: A while ago I was feeling sad when I realized we wouldn't have Disney passes until Dalton is going to school every day. I've since realized that it's less about Disneyland and more about Dalton. I think I am the most attached to him. He's my buddy. I'd rather take him shopping than any other one of my kids - even though he ASKS for stuff all the time now. He is happy to do just about anything spending time with me. We read, play toys, play ipad, snuggle and watch a movie, do crazy kitchen experiments, make up crafts, run around outside, or run errands.

He's sweet and kind and thoughtful. He's funny. He likes to snuggle. I love spending time with him and I'm going to miss it when he goes to school every day! I'm keeping him.

Divide and Conquer: John worked from home yesterday and was kind enough to take the kids to gymnastics. I had an hour and a half alone with Beep to do whatever I wanted! And I didn't have to chase her around the gymnastics place. Bonus. I got dinner ready and made peanut butter Rice Krispie treats. Then I cleaned up the mess Sienna made while I was doing that. Then we snuggled and played and read.

As soon as the kids walked in the door, they started fighting (John clarifies that they were fighting in the car). So, after dinner John took Dalton and Sienna to the park while I supervised Maggie's chores, piano practice, and homework. Once she finished all that, we ran over to the park, but Dalton was getting cold and wanted to go home. John took the little two home for baths and I stayed for a while so Maggie could play.

When we got home, I put Sienna in bed, John read Harry Potter to the kids and miraculously, there was no more fighting. Dalton even went to bed well, something we often struggle with. We made a deal that he can either go to bed, or have no treats the following day. It's worked for three nights in a row now. Maggie stayed up and read aloud on the couch while I exercised and John got some time to himself.

I guess sometimes the 19 hours of separation of sleep and school is not enough for those two.

Maggie, Age 7: "Mom, should I write '7' on my poster since I'll be sharing it after my birthday?"

Yes, big girl. You do that.

She spent an hour carefully coloring the poster for her "Baxter Bear" week this week. She spent an hour playing and fighting with, and tickling, her brother. She spent an hour hiking without complaint. She spent an hour occupying her sister so I could bake and decorate birthday cupcakes. She spent more than an hour playing on the iPad.

Maggie's favorite color is purple. She loves her family (a big of love/annoy with her brother) and at home she spends her time running in circles, drawing Angry Birds, and playing on the iPad.

Favorite iPad game: Lego Chima Speedors
Wants for her birthday: floatie that can steer and squirt water, a Lego Chima set, Nerf gun.
Favorite Characters: Angry Birds, Chima, Monsters University
Favorite food: strawberries, crepes, corn dogs, chicken taquito, pizza, spaghetti noodles with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and pretty much anything made from sugar.

Maggie is the sweetest thing. She is kind and friendly to everyone (except her brother, and she is clueless enough to be rough with Sienna sometimes). She's grown a little out of the "kind to everyone, friends with no one." She is a quick learner and very good at memorizing things. She makes up games and is very imaginative. I can't wait to see what this next year holds for her!

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