Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

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

[No comments] Secret's Out: On the 31st, John and I made 14 hearts for each of the kids with things we loved about them. Then, each night I hung a new one on their doors. Sienna asked me on the last day, "do you know who is putting these hearts on my door?" I said "it was me and dad!" It sure is nice to have a holiday where I don't have to lie about who's giving them stuff.

[No comments] Hard Worker: I told Sienna to get her shoes on for gymnastics and I heard her muttering "ugh, why do I have to work so hard like Tiana?"

She found a fold over elastic headband and has been wearing it around her waist as a "tool belt" day and night for over a month now. It's adorable, and hilarious. It was originally to hold her Handy Manny tools, but she also wears it to reference Chico Bon Bon: Monkey With a Toolbelt. My favorite is today she wore it over her leotard and tights to gymnastics and looked very much like a tiny Jane Fonda.

[No comments] Told Ya: I started throwing up a few hours after my last entry.

[No comments] Sick House: Everyone has taken turns being sick with a stomach bug. Sienna got sick Thursday. Dalton got sick Saturday. John got sick Sunday. And Sienna again. Arthur got sick Thursday. Maggie got sick Saturday. So it's been ten days already, and I am waiting for the 6th shoe to drop.

[No comments] Fun Mom: I used to be a fun mom, and did all sorts of crafts and activities with little Maggie and little Dalton. I've been getting some of that back the last couple weeks. Sienna has been asking to do "actibies", and why not? Part of it is that my overall productivity has increased. Part of it is that doing such things is less overwhelming in an overwhelmed house. Part of it is that the fewer toys lying around, the more interested she has in playing. Glad to be fun mom again. Hope I can keep it up.

Quarter Feb Check In: We're already one week into February, but my challenges for this month are going great. The 30 Day challenge is to exercise every day. Other than Sunday, I have been doing 30 Day Shred every night, and actually putting some good effort into it. I thought I would hate having to exercise, but it feels good to have done it.

The decluttering rooms for this month are craft/office. For me, I am doing the Master Bedroom (not the closet, so basically the desk), and under the stairs. I've piddled through some stuff, but now I've gotten a few things done ruthlessly. First I did the shelf under the stairs where we keep church shoes and rain boots, ice chests and a couple other random things. Then I decided to hang my stroller hooks on the bar at the back of the closet so all the bags (extra backpacks, swim bags) aren't on the floor. I haven't finished with the bags but I love having them off the floor. Today I did all the writing utensils in the house. Tons. Of. Pencils. And Markers. And Colored Pencils. Tons. I got rid of a bunch, and the organized the two 3-drawer craft carts. With all the stuff I threw out, I was able to sort the drawers spaciously into writing/drawing stuff, scratch paper (there's a ton right now because, decluttering), and activities (construction paper, glitter glue, water colors, etc). The other cart's drawers are craft supplies (pipe cleaners, glue, scissors), sensory (playdough and tools, shaving cream), and paint and paint brushes. While I had the carts out, I vacuumed and clean the walls, and then I had to do the shoe basket so the floor wouldn't be covered in sand again. We each have a pair of sneakers and a pair of flip flops in the basket, but I'm open to other organization ideas.

In the office, the only thing I've done 100% is the Box of Important Files. I went through it, then I realized I did a poor job and went through it again, each paper. I've gone through data CDs, craft stuff, the other file boxes etc. but nothing else 100% yet.

Maggie's Testimony: I was home from church yesterday with sick Dalton, so John took the girls and they sat with our usual helpful family. Apparently Maggie decided to bear her testimony, and take Sienna up with her.

She told me she said "Hello, Brothers and Sisters. My name is Maggie and I want to bear my testimony. I know the church is true, and we should pass off Articles of Faith, not to get candy, but to learn the gospel." And then she helped Sienna say the First Article of Faith.

I told Maggie to take Sienna to Primary and help her pass off her First Article of Faith, but she says she didn't misunderstand, she just felt like doing it.

Long Night:

I got a lot of twenty minute naps last night. About twenty minutes after I went to bed, I heard Sienna messing around in the bathroom. She gets up and goes potty, but seemed to be taking longer than usual so I checked on her and tucked her into bed. It smelled like throw up. She admitted to it, but wouldn't tell me where because she had "cleaned it up." Luckily/or not, I immediately discovered I was standing in it. She had dabbed with a handful of baby washcloths and put them in the sink. I cleaned everything up and went to bed. Twenty minutes later she was throwing up again. And twenty minutes after that. I slept about 1 1/2 hours, then woke up to check on her. All was good so I went back to bed. At 4:30, we got up to change a battery in the smoke detector. An hour later, Sienna was up throwing up. Half an hour after that, Arthur was up. I changed him and gave him a squeeze, and put him back in bed like I sometime do, but twenty minutes later he was up for good.

Surprisingly, the rest of the day went well. We ran a quick errand, I played lots of games with Sienna. Arthur didn't take an afternoon nap, but was fine. I made an easy dinner and a Texas sheet cake. Sienna and Arthur went to bed early.

31 Days of Less Stuff: My neighbor and I decided to do 12 30-day challenges this year. Then it turned into a year long decluttering challenge and the 30-day challenges. And then the decluttering turned into deep-cleaning. So it's more work than I bargained for, but amazing.

The challenge for January was a spending freeze. John and I decided on eating out once or twice, $200 on groceries, and $100 on John's groceries. And not buying anything else. I think we spent about $1200 on groceries in December, so this alone is a huge savings.

The final totals:
$199 on groceries
No eating out, except free meals at chick fil a from receipt day
No spending during 9 Disneyland visits
No amazon orders

The kids' post-freeze requests: Dalton wanted chips, and orangsicle yogurt. Maggie wanted lunchables. John wanted orange juice. I wanted ice cream.

Meal planning is key to a challenge like this. I have plenty of food on hand, even at the end of the month, there was still lots of food. I mostly spent the budget on dairy, produce, and baby food. Unfortunately, I didn't shop much less. I had about 20 purchases made, including neighbors picking up stuff for me. So that was kind of annoying. I'd like to shop less frequently.

This month's decluttering area was the kitchen. I am doing double speed, since we are hoping to move this summer, so I did the dining room as well. This included cleaning out the fridge and pantry (worked well with the spending freeze), scrubbing the floor, going through the piano books, rearranging the cupboards, throwing out a lot of food, and getting rid of some items so I can now enjoy white space in my drawers and cupboards.

Next up: decluttering office and crafts, and EXERCISING.

Morning: I got up after 7 this morning, and left by 8. Everyone was up with John and he had some breakfasts going. Kids all got themselves dressed (except Arthur, who went out the door in his Pjs). I started laundry, had help unloading the dishwasher, and put together two lunches and two morning snacks (with very low options due to the tail end of the spending freeze). Maggie and Dalton both did piano. Maggie did reading.

Maggie headed out the door to bike to school. I dropp d Sienna and Arthur off at the neighbor's. Dalton drove with me to school, where I'm waiting for reading groups to start. I love a good productive morning.

Bye Bye Baby: I did some cleaning, organizing, decluttering and arranging today. Like twenty times I thought of ways I can organize, places I can put things once Arthur doesn't dump stuff out anymore. And it made me SO SAD! He's going to be grown up before I know it.

Dishwashing: I recently wrote about how I've been feeling the laundry and dishwashing toll of a family of six. I started running the dishwasher every night and it has made a difference in how I go about the day. First of all, I tend to not to much as far as work in the evenings. After dinner, I'm just done. So this has helped me do one more thing, and get the kitchen nice and clean.

Secondly, it's really nice to wake up to! Sometimes I even get the dishes unloaded at night, but otherwise I just do it while we're doing breakfast and lunches in the morning.

Sunday Morning: The kids and I have been trying to plan ahead for some Sunday morning fun since we don't have church until 12:30 and John is gone to meetings. Today was rough because it was raining. We made homemade chocolate pudding and did a big puzzle together.

Family History, They Are Doing It: I'm a ward family history consultant. It's fun, mostly Sunday calling. Tonight the beehives went to the family history center, so I showed up to help them. It was so fun! I helped a few girls find a spot to work on and practice attaching records.

John has been getting home after 8 every night, even though he is very ill. So I lucked out that he was home tonight. Now (9 pm) he is working, on the phone, and hacking up a lung. Worst time of year to be sick.

Thank You, Internet: My brother lives 2800 miles away, and my sister lives 5400 miles away, and we just spent five minutes discussing clothing hangers in our childhood home.

Monday, 7:15 PM: Dalton has started tennis after school on Mondays. Immediately after that, we drove Maggie to gymnastics 20 minutes away. Her class is from 5-6:30. We're still working out the logistics of what to do with the other three kids during that time (also, its dark), but getting home at 6:45 has been perfect. I let the kids eat more dinner if they're hungry, then everyone gets jammies on and goes to bed. At the same time. Normally Arthur is in bed before 7, sienna around 7, and the older two at 7:30. But there's no sense in messing with separate bedtimes on Mondays. They're all tired too, so they go to sleep and the house is quickly quiet. After sub a busy afternoon, it's a good feeling.

Scoot a Scoop: Sienna says "scoop" instead of "scoot." Let me scoop my blanket over. Not entirely off-base I guess.

She has discovered mom will peel apples for her (to avoid peels all over the house). She only likes "up" apples, which I think means not the core.

We recently set up the little IKEA play tent in her room. After two nights of having the camping tent in our living room. Sienna slept in the tent for over a week, I think, until I put it away. It was fun to read a bedtime story in there with her, and Arthur liked it as well.

Cause I'm Happy: Im decluttering and I recently was flipping through some of my old journals. It seems a great theme of trying to figure out who I am. What am I good at. What makes me special. Then, further in my reading, and further in my life, came the acknowledgment that my goal in life is to make people happy. I love making people smile. It was interesting to see that theme emerge in my introspection.

Goodbye, 2016: 2016 highlights include awesome family vacation to Portland with the Prestons, Knott's and Soak City, hosting various family, Zootopia Halloween, many beach trips, swimming in the rain, Spring and Fall breaks in Utah, Harry Potter at Universal, and of course lots of Disneyland. There was less hiking and more whining than I'd like, but overall a great year.
I actually feel a little guilty because I see a lot of complaints about 2016 (some legit). And I think we had a pretty great year. But I'm not ashamed of it, and this I my blog. Here's to an even better 2017!

Funicular: Maggie is learning Funiculi, Funicula on the piano. I pulled up Larry's High Silk Hat on the Veggie Tales Silly Songs DVD we got (three copies of) for our wedding, and now she is interested in practicing it. Where can I find Silly Songs for all of her piano music?

A Tiss and a Hug: Sienna likes to give people a kiss ("Tiss") and a Hug when they leave. Sometimes she is too late, so she invented a faraway hug where she stands with her arms open. She calls this a "benis."

She also says "waybe" (maybe).

Are You Kidding Me?: Dalton's latest thing to say is "are you kidding me?" We usually aren't.

Game Time: We went to a big neighborhood Christmas party last night. We got. Babysitter for the two little ones, but took Maggie and Dalton. The kids spent most of the time in the game bus. When we told Maggie it was time to leave, nearly three hours later, she accused us of changing the clocks, lying about the time, and only letting her play for a hour. Also, she hadn't eaten dinner (10:30 pm).

Chilly Disney Holiday: John had to go to work this morning, so I took the kids to Disneyland bright and early. The idea was to do Haunted Mansion holiday and Jingle Cruise since we are blocked out most of the rest of the season. I prepared the kids to wait a long time, but we didn't have to! We actually arrived at opening time, which we've been slacking on this year. They agreed on Mickey lollipops for a treat, so we grabbed those from the Candy Palace as they opened. Then we walked onto Jingle Cruise. Sienna got stuck on the boat - literally - and had to have her jacket pried out. Kids got to blow the steam whistle at New Orleans Station. We walked onto Haunted Mansion then got stuck in the seance room for ten minutes. We did Pirates, and went into a shop to have someone help cut the lollipops open. Big kids went on Big Thunder by themselves. We waited ten minutes for Buzz (only line we waited in) and then took the horse-drawn trolley back to the exit. We went over to DCA and rode Monsters, then learned how to draw Zero in the Animation Academy. Everyone did a great job of not fighting or whining up until this point. We stopped to write letters to Santa on the way out. By the time we got to the car, everyone but Arthur was grumpy. Almost made it.

Also, it was in the 40s. Soooo cold.

Little Feet: A little Arthur-ism that I just love. When I'm getting him dressed, I set him on my lap, and he sees his socks, he will hold up one little foot at a time to have his sock put on. It's so precious, especially considering the amount of convincing the next kid takes to get dressed.

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