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13 Cool Things We Did in '13: I was going to do a post about all the cool things I did this year, but then I realized there weren't any.

1. Maggie learned how to read. She also burned a track in the carpet from her running around.

2. John got promoted to Senior Manager. Did I not mention that? Well, he has his own blog.

3. We drove up the coast, then went inland to Yosemite.

4. We went to San Diego! Visited the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park twice each, and stayed in a cool hotel.

5. We made two trips to Utah. Oh wait, I said "cool" things, not cold miserable things. Utah in March is nice.

6. The kids went to summer day camp for the first time. Maggie to Hero Camp and both kids to gymnastics camp.

7. Sienna learned all sorts of stuff. She basically only knew how to smile at the beginning of the year. So she learned how to sit up, roll over, play dead, talk (recently turned from syllable repeating to babbling), stand up, sign, be silly, play peekaboo, climb up and down stairs, etc.

8. Legoland. Though, I just realized we probably still went to Disneyland more this year.

9. Dalton provided lots of entertainment with his hilarious adorableness, un-lost himself several times by asking a nearby stranger where his mommy was, and grew into the kindest sweetest boy imaginable.

10. Ok surely I did something noteworthy. I made our Halloween costumes. I breastfed. A lot. I did my own NaNoBloMo, plus kept our picture blog up to date. I spent a lot of time cooking and cleaning, and doing laundry and running kids around places and grocery shopping. Lots and lots of grocery shopping.

I think it's safe to say that while 2014 has yet to prove if it's better or not, it will definitely be more exciting.

Must add that much of my snark is coming from the 5:00 hour, thank you, Sienna, myself having already been up once in the night coughing.

AND I just realized I only posted 10 things. Officially time to go back to bed. Hah.

(Update #18) Now that I am awake (but no less snarky) I will add three more.

11. Everyone (except Sienna) got really good at playing iPad games. This may not seem like a big deal, but based on the number of hours involves, it's very important.

12. Maggie memorized the thirteen Articles of Faith and Dalton memorized four or five of them.

13. Maggie learned to ride a scooter. And do a cartwheel. And play the piano. Now there's a legitimate accomplishment for me: I taught Maggie piano lessons and she actually learned something.

Inventive: Yesterday I overheard the kids playing two mishmash games they made up.

Light sabers + gummi berry juice. Oh yes, they did.

Angry Birds Fight, which pits the Angry Bird of your choice against your opponent a la Jurassic Park Battle.

Maggie always talks about games she's going to make up when she grows up. Except I think she's already made them.

Grandma's See's: Last night, Brett, Rachel and I picked Leonard up from the airport. He said he'd brought a present for us that had reminded him of Grandma Rosalie and with that as our only clue we began guessing.

Peanut brittle
candy canes
fisher-price circus train
Stouffer's lasagne
orange soda
Tootsie pops
kids' TV dinners
Meow Mix
Denny's
Burger King
green mushroom footstool
colored White Out

Eventually, Leonard came to the conclusion that he was the only person who remembered this about Grandma. It turned out to be a box of See's candy. Leonard remembered the large assortment box being on the orange counter at the ranch. Now that he mentions it, I can almost remember this. The chocolate is good, either way.

Santa Barbara: Leonard and Rachel came out for our cousin Eric's wedding this weekend. I was able to only go up on Saturday for one night because of the Beep. I drove up Saturday morning and met Leonard, Rachel and Brett at Silvergreen's for breakfast. So. Good. I had a breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, cheese, turkey and avocado. We also had a granola berry smoothie that was so sweet and delicious.

After breakfast, we went to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. The ceremony was in the Santa Barbara Mission. It was a Catholic Wedding Mass and it was lovely without being long and boring.

In between the wedding and the reception we went back to Silvergreen's to get more smoothies. Then we went to visit Pat and Alan in their room at the Bacara resort where the reception was held. There was a cocktail reception, formal dinner and dancing. The salad was the best part of dinner. There was golden beets, grilled carrots, tomatoes, avocado, white wine vinegar dressing, and goat cheese crostini. So good.

Leonard and I left early 'cause we're boring like that. In the morning we went back over to the resort for breakfast with all the family. The breakfast buffet was amazing. I had potatoes, french toast with piles of fresh berries, fresh orange juice and really good Ghirardelli hot chocolate.

Leonard and I drove home after breakfast and now we have a few days to spend together before he continues his trip.

Leonard's Visit: We had such a fun short week with Leonard. Maggie didn't have school on Monday so we went to LA to go to the natural history museum. It's always fun to go there and see what we remembered as kids. My kids both really enjoyed it too and were remarkably unwhiny.

Afterwards, we walked over to the science center to see if we could get in to see the space shuttle Endeavor. Success! They gave us quite the roundabout to temporary space shuttle exhibits. I really loved watching the film of images from bringing the space shuttle from LAX. Then, we got to go in the hangar and see it. It was so cool! All around were plaques from every NASA shuttle mission. We learned a lot.

On Monday night we went to see The Desolation of Smaug. I loved the movie and everything they added to the story.

Tuesday was beach day. We went to crescent bay. Because the previous day was a holiday, we found lots of sand toys. There was basically no one else on the beach so we decided to keep them. Dalton dug around in the sand, Leonard waded in the surf, Sienna caused trouble.

Today we mostly sat around. Dalton had preschool. I made muffins and pretzels. We played Carcasonne (both of us getting our fill as we have no one to play it with). Leonard also introduced us to a group iPad game called Spaceteam.

We walked to school to get Maggie (who lost tooth #2 today!). Then, Leonard bought us PDM sandwiches for lunch, yum! The kids were very well-behaved during our airport run. Now back to real life, catching up on work, cleaning, etc.

My favorite part of Leonard's visit is the number of times he said to me "no, I'm spending time with the kids right now." What a great uncle.

Chadwick Family Funny: Maggie: Dalton, why are you being such a boss?
Dalton: I learned it from you.

Maggie also offered him money from her piggy bank to play with her. (He recently acquired a juice jar from otter J preschool). Anyway, they played really well all afternoon. First they went camping in the closet. Sienna was a bear. Then they played Angry Birds. Despite anything they may say, the Angry Birds stuffed animals are the clear favorite toy from Christmas. When John took Sienna for a walk this evening, the kids wanted to go too so we took Red and Leia to the park in the dark. They had a nice time.

I gave Dalton a haircut tonight. It's been a long time and I just trimmed around his ears last time. He hates haircuts and I have to full-on bribe him with treats. I went back to the #2 all over to make it quick and last longer.

Lazy Saturday: This morning when John left for his doctor's appointment (and from there, to work) the kids and I went over to the park. They brought their scooters and I brought our sand toys. There were lots of friends to play with. Sienna borrowed balls from other kids and crawled around in the sand. Dalton and Maggie chased each other all over the playground and they all had a turn on the swings.

After the park, I put Sienna down for a nap, though she didn't really take one. Dalton also went to bed. I gave him the option of a 5 minute time out for his tantrum over the scooter, or 30 minutes in bed and he chose the latter.

Then we had Lego time, which is saved for when Sienna is in bed. Maggie and I tried out a couple Dino-gami creatures from a book my Aunt Sharon gave her.

Then we went to Costco.

John just called and offered to pick up dinner on his way home. Love that man.

Sweet: Pupcake. That's what Dalton calls a cupcake. It doesn't get any cuter.

And So it Ends: Last night Sienna would only nurse for a couple minutes. Of course, she is still happy to wake me up in the early morning, but who knows how long that will last.

Boy and Girl Stuff: We had some friends over to play this morning. We usually watch girls, and it was a nice change to have a 5 year old boy to play with Dalton. Then they went upstairs and here are some of the things I overheard.

Does your sister kind of like boy stuff?
D: Do you want some [Mr potato head] earrings? No way! I'm not a girl.
Why is there boy stuff on that side and girl stuff on this side?
Is this your side? There's an angry bird.
Why is there two purple light sabers?

Sorry for harping on this, but it's my blog and apparently this is my issue.

Not Just Boys: In case you think it's just boys who are set in their gendered ways, I will tell you about the two girls we do preschool with. Today they were over and playing Mr. Potato Head. They made nice princess ones. Dalton made one after they left. His had a pirate eye, a mustache over pretty lips, sparkly shoes and a crown. To quote Rachel:

Dalton's pretty in touch with his... non-gendered side.

Couple other Dalton notes. He loves to open the gates for me when we walk to school. He has also started telling me when he wants to get on and off the stroller (instead of annoying hop on hop off.)

What I want for Christmas is a phone that when it's time to wake up it makes a sound and you put your hand on it and it stops making a sound.
You mean an alarm clock?

Little Gymnast: Dalton put himself to bed early sick, so Maggie stayed up and exercised with me. I was doing Jillian's 30-day Shred and Maggie decided to do some gymnastics practice. A while ago, I suggested she do three bridges every day, to get stronger. So, she started with those and then did a variety of things three times each. Cartwheels, handstands, handstands against the wall. Pike, straight, tuck and straddle jumps. Half and full turns. Arabesques, splits. In between she did some jumping jacks and running in place. It was adorable and much more entertaining than my workout video.

The kids got 1-year anniversary trophies at gymnastics this week. They really love it.

Car Conversations: Things we talked about in the car on the way home from gymnastics.

How many times each of us has been on an airplane. Sienna: 2. Dalton: 27. Maggie: 29. I stopped counting mine, but I guessed around 60.

What's for dinner.
Dalton: Is it January? Then I don't want strawberries. Strawberries aren't good in January.

What we wish were having for dinner.
Dalton: I want to go to Ruby's and have a cheeseburger with ketchup, fries and chicken and I'm getting a chocolate smoothie.

Slurpee rewards for dry diapers.

Left Out: I came home from park day/picking Maggie up from school feeling left out on behalf of my kids. It's funny because I was actually really excited that Maggie had a friend in her class to be twins with for Twin Day today. But I realized I can't remember the last time either of my kids was invited over to play. (Actually, I can, Maggie got invited to a friend's house a couple months ago.) They have also only been invited to birthday parties where the kid invites the whole class.

I wonder if part of it is because most of the kids Maggie likes are boys, and Dalton pretty much only knows girls. Of course, that wouldn't stop me, but see my two previous posts this week on that subject and you'll see that other parents feel differently. And I just opened my Instagram to see pictures of friends at Disneyland - 7 little preschool/toddler girls (no boys).

Anyway. I'm a believer that you get what you put into things and I can't remember the last time we invited anyone over to play either. I show up to stuff, the kids now play with other people at activities, and that's good enough for them. None of that changes the little left out heart ache I have right now.

Don't Do, Be: Over the past several weeks I found myself spending a lot of time daydreaming. While I'm cleaning, driving, or I even once sat down to take a 15 minute break and dream for a little bit. What am I dreaming about? Doing important things. Being special. Attention. Fame. Anyone who knows me (including me) would laugh to think that I've dream of being famous! I mean, who cares? But it kind of ate away at me and I gotta tell you, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice" didn't make me feel much better.

Then I opened a Dove candy that said "Don't do, be." on the wrapper. That didn't make me feel much better, either. But I put it in my pocket, and when I found it in the washing machine, I put it into my pocket again and I kept thinking about it every time I put my hand in my pocket.

Ok, I still don't feel any less boring, but I've talked myself out of caring. I actually love my life and being famous probably sucks. John and I are always saying (every time someone dies of a drug overdose) that we would never wish that on our kids. What's most important is that I'm a good person and work on being a great mom and wife. I don't need to be noticed. I'm ok with a small life. I pick and choose what I do and I don't do things I don't like doing, so I really can't complain anyway!

I hate that I have taken inspiration from a candy wrapper, but there it is.

This One Time: When I turned 29, my husband sent me to New York for a week to hang out with my brother. It as awesome. That must be my version of a spa getaway. There was also that time I turned 32 and he planned a relaxing family resort trip and did all the cooking, packing, and preparing. Also awesome.

One time he bought me six different chocolates to try. Seriously. Chocolate. Awesome. I've always said he is good at gift giving.

The House-Elves of Hogwarts.: I finished re-reading all the Harry Potter books, and watching all the movies (a quest I began in October). Now that I know the story, I was able to concentrate on how great the writing is, and noticing all sorts of seemingly unimportant details in the books, especially The Half-Blood Prince. I also, apparently, didn't really remember The Deathly Hallows. I think this was only the third time I read this one, and the first time doesn't really count as reading. But I was amazed at how much stuff I didn't even remember. I carefully read and reread the last couple chapters.

One bit I missed on previous readings is the only part that made me cry (this time around). The battle has resumed after Harry's "death".

The house-elves of Hogwarts swarmed into the entrance hall, screaming and waving carving knives and cleavers, and at their head, the locket of Regulus Black bouncing on his chest, was Kreacher, his bullfrog's voice audible even above this din: "Fight! Fight! Fight for my Master, defender of house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!
There are a lot of wonderful bits of wisdom to gain from Harry Potter (many directly pointed out by the mouth of Albus Dumbledor). Here is one I gleaned from this reading: How you treat people can make all the difference. A little bit of respect from Harry and Kreacher was an entirely different being. A few kind words gained his loyalty, even changed deep-rooted hatred. The house-elves were not commanded to fight; they chose to do so because they loved the masters they served.

What Happens in Time Out: You're not a mean mom, you're a not mean mommy. Maggie's just saying that cause she's crying.

Daydream: Last week I wrote about my Dove candy wrapper inspiration and being happy with my wonderful life. A few days later, I discovered one more delicious dark chocolate caramel Dove candy in the bottom of on of the kids' trick-or-treat buckets. (Yes, we still have Halloween candy. Don't judge.)

I opened it.

I put the chocolate in my mouth

(Yes, the whole thing. The kids were awake, this was no time to savor.)

I looked at the wrapper.

Daydream.

Say what? I read it again. I smoothed it out. I told Dalton, no, he couldn't have any because he never ate his dinner. I read it again.

Huh.

All right then.

I folded up the wrapper. I put it in my pocket. I went about my day a little more lightly.

Sienna Speaks: I have a feeling Sienna will be going the way of Dalton's language development and not Maggie's. Today she said a perfectly enunciated "doggie."

She is adding "gie" and "nie" to her syllables, making the words "daddy" "mommy" "doggie" and "maggie".
dada (doggie)
data (dalton)
nanny for daddy, mommy, maggie
"Geekee" for blankie All The Time
"ah oh" for uh-oh (she sounds like a monkey doing it)
"yeah".
ma (more)
"brr" sound (bird)
"da da" (all done)

Here are the signs she knows:
milk
fish (looks like milk)
bird
doggie
daddy
sleepy
all done
hi
change (diaper)
car
airplane

And she knows how to give kisses and does adorable nonsense babble a lot.

And this week she learned "no." Great.

Why Mormons Are So Nice: Today while I was eating lunch I found myself looking at a paper lying on the table that Maggie had brought home from Primary. It was a coloring page of four boys at the park. One of the boys was holding a basketball and invited a forlorn boy to join the game he and his friends were playing. The bottom of the page read:

Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done toyou (John 13:15).

Then I realized, this is why Mormons are so nice. Maggie spent 50 minutes today being taught to be a good friend. How to show love for others. How to be a good example. How to share the Gospel with your friends, which usually requires you to have friends in the first place. This is what we learn about every week. The whole goal is to become better people, to become perfect, so we are constantly improving ourselves, and thus our outward relationships with others.

Everyone knows people who are unusually kind. All of the ones I can think of were quite religious, though maybe not of my religion. And in general, religion makes people exceptionally nice, and Mormons have a high degree of religiosity.

There you have it. Maggie is the sweetest, nicest girl to her friends, and a great example and role model. Primary must get some of the credit.

Sienna Sings: Sienna doesn't actually sing, but one sign I forgot to mention is "music." She waves her arm like crazy during Sacrament Meeting. As soon as the organist begins the introduction. She perks up. She usually stands up on the bench with her eyes on the girl who leads the music. And one her arm is up, Sienna's is right up there with her. (The sign for music is very similar to a chorister conducting, for some reason...)

It's adorable how she dances, too. Any kind of music: Handy Manny's tool box, musical Woodstock stuffie, videos, or, you know, actual music. She does the typical toddler bop. I love it.

Happy Valentine's Day!: John was home when we got home from gymnastics last night. The kids ran inside while I took Sienna to get the mail and began to bring in groceries. When I walked in, the three of them were sitting all organized and waiting to yell, "Happy Valentine's Day!" It was quite startling, but the adorable Valentine's Day donuts from Krispy Kreme waiting on the table totally made up for it.

Thanks, John!

Beach Buddies: Today we went to the beach with friends. I love Beach Day! I love the beach. I especially love going to the beach with friends (when John can't go with us - or when he can!). But today I mostly love friends. It sure is nice to have people to hang out with, chat with, text, and enjoy. I had a really nice day full of adult interaction. It was like park day, except better.

I think this is my first trip to the beach on a school day without Maggie. It was a lot of work because since last summer I have invested in an umbrella and a beach chair (neither of which I really used today, though Sienna LOVES the beach chair - and everyone else's). So, Dalton carried the bucket of sand toys and I carried the baby, the umbrella, the beach chair, and the bag.

We met four friends with 5 preschool-aged girls. It was fun to sit and chat while the kids played. Dalton eventually played with the girls and it was great to see them digging holes, burying their feet, and splashing in the water. Sienna crawled around in the sand and was generally very well-behaved. I'm not sure why it's easier to watch her at the beach than the park. I guess I don't have to worry about her falling off play equipment.

I used to dislike the beach because of the sand. I've always enjoyed walking along the beach of course, but sitting there, getting wet, getting sandy, getting kids sandy, and taking sandy kids home. I'm happy to say that I no longer find that cringe-worthy. Sand is fine. Baby powder gets most of it off. Dalton actually asked to take a bath when we got home. Problem solved. Also, by my third kid, I kind of don't worry about how much sand she eats. Crunch Crunch.

Vapid: I recently read an article about how early learning (or putting kids in preschool so you can go back to work) Allows kids to be "social" but not socialized. Apparently, to be properly socialized, you need to first have a strong self-identity.

They used the example of a teacher in a staff meeting who disagrees with what is being discussed but doesn't speak up. Everyone thinks she's nice and she gets along with everyone (never voicing, or perhaps never even having differing opinions). And I realized, that's totally me. I'm the nice person everyone gets along with, because why shouldn't they? I've never said anything they don't like.

I'm not sure this is because I started school too young. I entered Kindergarten at four, which was the case for September birthdays in California through... next year. No preschool. No "early learning." No day care. Nothing to blame my lack of personality on. Hah!

I think part of this stems from the fact that there are very few people with whom I agree on both religion and politics.

I challenge myself to speak up next time I disagree. And I even foresee a situation. Awesome.

Additionally, Maggie seems to be the kid everyone likes but no one is friends with. We've heard this (in not so many words) from both of her teachers so far. I think it's because she's just an all-around nice girl, and she doesn't at all lack confidence. Or seem to have trouble expressing different opinions...

Man Bag and Girl Friends: First a little tidbit I recorded during a play date. Dalton was playing with a pink sparkly wand.

Dalton's Girl Friend: That's girly. And you're a boy. ... It's pink.
Dalton: No, I got it from Chuck E. Cheese.
He looked a little confused and looked over at me. I was tempted to interrupt with my "There are no girl toys and boy toys speech" but I let him handle it. A few minutes later his friend turned to me.
Friend: Is that Dalton's?
Me: Yes, he and Maggie both got one from Chuck E. Cheese.
They were both satisfied and moved on.

Last night, the kids and I were walking through a parking lot holding hands. My purse had fallen to my hand and when Dalton yanked, it fell off onto his arm. I pulled it up over his neck so I could open the car door and Maggie said, "Dalton, you're a girl!" She said she called him that because girls use purses. We discussed how a purse is a bag and is not an absolute Girl or Boy thing (a discussion we've had before about lots of items). Then I asked her, "Is being a girl a bad thing? Are you calling Dalton a mean name when you say he's a girl?" She has a point about the purse, but the word "girl" should not be used as an insult! Especially by another girl.

Another more difficult situation appeared last week. One of Dalton's friends (a girl) said that he wasn't her friend because her dad told her she wasn't allowed to have boyfriends until she's 20! At least she was being obedient: she didn't even say it to Dalton, but to the adults nearby. A few days later, at the beach, the same thing happened in front of several other little girls. As I've mentioned, nearly all of Dalton's friends are girls and I didn't want this spreading around. I mentioned it to her mom. On Sunday, the girl's dad told me that he'd talked to her and told her it was ok to be friends with Dalton and she agreed. Whew! Now Dalton can have his friends.

Sienna at 15 Months: She took her first steps and occasional walks just before 14 months, but it wasn't until this week that Sienna has actually decided to walk. Hurray!

She is still nursing morning and night, but she will actually drink cow milk now.

She weighed in at 18 lb 14 oz (17% still) and is 31 inches tall (67%). She's grown over an inch in the last three months and I realized that her carseat has a 32 inch height limit. Of course, she's not 20 lbs yet, and I am perfectly happy to keep her rear facing. I guess I'm in the market.

Til Her Puzzler Was Sore: I have a pitiful baby seal of a girl today. John kept her home from church yesterday because she was sick and so warm. Today she slept until 9, then refused to nap except for about 3:30-4. Her nose ran constantly and about halfway through the day her cough turned into a bark. I put her in bed with the humidifier to the chorus of screams from the next room.

Surprisingly, it was Maggie. Apparently, she was hiding under the bed and Dalton hit her in the head with a Rubik's cube. Very hard, judging from the bruised bump on her forehead. Nice. He went to bed and she and I stayed up and snuggled and read a library book. Half an hour after she went to bed, Dalton woke up crying. I have a feeling he will be turned seal by tomorrow night. Such is parenting.

Naptime: My saving grace when it comes to The Napless Wonder is that Sienna has always been a very good sleeper at night. We never had much trouble with her wanting to stay up when she got up to nurse, maybe just two times. Which is good because she's pretty much always been a terrible napper. The last month or so has been better. I started doing just one nap with her at around 11 months. That was 6 months ago. It took a few months to "take" and even then, I still put her down at 4:00 because she's tired and I want to make dinner in peace. She rarely falls asleep.

For the last month at least I've gotten one good nap out of her. Sometimes she will even sleep three hours, which is how much sleep she's supposed to get. But whether it was a good nap day or not, she continues to sleep well at night. Even last night when I wrote about how sick she was and she cried on and off until about 10:30, I didn't hear another peep until 6:45.

[Comments] (2) Pic It Up: I keep meaning to do more frequent, shorter posts on my picture blog. It's obviously not working (really long post of pictures of Dalton; even more pictures of Sienna). Or maybe I need to take fewer pictures. I take a lot of pictures capturing random moments of the day, but since I end up blogging them in a monthly Random post, I'm not sure there's any point. It looks like I did 22 posts already in February, so maybe I don't need more. Fewer pictures it is.

I read a blog post recently about how mean it is to take pictures of our kids crying and mock them on social media. I don't buy it. Yes, they are human beings with feelings, but I'm the mom having to listen to their tantrum over some ridiculous thing and if I can't laugh about it with my friends, I may not survive the next tantrum.

However, when Maggie got bonked in the head the other day she did ask me not to take a picture and show everyone, so I didn't. (She showed everyone herself, anyway. The mark is on the side of her head where her hair parts and I had several people ask me about it. She had people at school (including her teacher) ask, too.) So, no picture if you don't want one. My kids are old enough to state when they don't want their pictures taken. Of course, if they are screaming to hard to specify, it's fair game for my Instagram.

[Comments] (1) Check:

Flights
London flat
Eurostar tickets
Disneyland Paris vacation package
Day tour of Paris
Passport for Beep
New luggage
Checkity-check check

Next on the list: White dresses with blue purple satin sashes.

A Bite Out Of Terrycloth: Despite napping for several hours yesterday, Dalton happily went to bed last night. He came waddling into our room at 3:00 this morning and announced loudly as he tried to climb onto the bed:

Want to know what my dream was about? Kate was over and an alligator was chasing us. It took a bite of my towel. It took a bite on the hood.

I grabbed him under the arms and pulled him on the bed to snuggle me where he immediately fell asleep. After a few minutes I carried him back to his bed, reassuring him I would snuggle him there.

He fell right back asleep, breathing quickly and his abdomen rising and falling in telltale signs of labored breathing and decreased oxygen intake. Boo.

On Rain: We are finally getting some good rain. I won't complain that it woke me up at 4:30 in morning, or that I had to run in a downpour to the car from John's office with two coatless kids. It smells fresh and lovely and there are puddles everywhere for jumping. The "river" (which is usually a giant cement ditch) was flowing as fast as I've ever seen it. Hopefully that water stops at some reservoir on its way to the sea.

I did have to go rescue John and Sienna from their walk when they got caught in a downpour. Hah.

An Outline of Me: Throughout the month of February, I did a little photography project: I took pictures of my shadow whenever I saw it. Since we had a lovely February Summer and were outside a lot, this happened more than you might expect for February (you hear that, groundhog?).

My photo blog post about the pictures is actually called "Shadow of a Mom" because there are some definite themes running through the pictures.

First, with Sienna barely starting to walk for reals, and most of the pictures being taken outside, I am holding her in nearly all of them. Hiking, at the park, at Legoland, at school. Of the 25 pictures I took, Sienna is in 20 of them. The other theme is the "Mom" thing. Most of the pictures are from the park or school pick-up. Holding kids, pushing the stroller, being a packhorse, playing at the park, mini-shadows grabbing onto my legs. There are no pictures of me lounging around by myself outside, probably because that didn't happen. (There is a picture of me lounging around at the park playing with Dalton.)

I won't pretend this is revealing. I know that moms get sucked into their kids and lose a bit of their identity. My identity was more found in the project than lost by the realization of the results. The effort in the creativity of it brought a little piece of me to shine out from between the mini shadows surrounding me.

My Favorite Things: One of the best feelings in the world (besides snuggling and a successful accomplishment) is getting back into bed for more sleep. I would just as soon Sienna wake up at 5:30 than 7:00, because then I can crawl back under my warm covers for another hour and a half. In fact, I like doing this so much that in my early teens I would set my alarm early, get up and shower, then wrap up in a blanket and go back to sleep.

That said, I didn't appreciate the repeated wake-up calls from baby last night. Teething?

Motherhood: Prayer is the Answer: The past two days have been a struggle for me with Dalton. He's refused to listen, been deliberately disobedient and just plain ornery. Part of it is his usual lack of sleep. He bursts into tears over the smallest things and I know it's because he's tired. I've just been so frustrated.

This morning for my scripture study (and by "morning" I mean "3 am when I was up with Sienna" who has also been difficult) I clicked on my "motherhood" tag to read some words of wisdom.

Alma 13:28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.
I apparently marked that one just a couple weeks ago. All long-suffering. Sounds about right.

And a bit more extrapolated:

D&C 88:63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
This one had a note I had made when marking it: "Prayer is the answer."

Dalton went to preschool today, which helped. Not only having some separation, but just going outside and getting out of the house can make things much brighter. That's our goal today. And prayer. Prayer is the answer.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

[No comments] Bleh: I got food poisoning or something Wednesday night, and then spent all day Thursday lying in bed trying to recover.

[No comments] 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.

[No comments] 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.

[No comments] 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.

[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.

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