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
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.


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.


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)
ma (more)
"brr" sound (bird)
"da da" (all done)

Here are the signs she knows:
fish (looks like milk)
all done
change (diaper)

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

We Wonders: I am rereading The Hobbit, last read on a beanbag in San Francisco in 2002. It's so good! None of the fluff of Lord of the Rings, an exciting story, well-written, funny, and full of good advice.

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

Beep's Baby: I think I am spoiling Sienna. Lately she's taken an interest in carrying a bag around on her arm - probably related to Easter egg hunting. We needed more sand toys anyway, so I bought her a Minnie Mouse bucket and shovel at the dollar store. Then she saw a Mike Wazowski figurine (rawr! ah!) she just had to have. Then, today at Walmart, she saw a baby doll. We bought Maggie a baby doll for Christmas when she was two and she never took an interest in it. But Sienna fussed and fussed and was so enthralled and it was on clearance so I bought it for her. It's just a cheap plastic doll, so if she decides she doesn't like it, no big deal.

In the mean time, she carried the box around the store. She is noticing that it has toes and a belly button like she does, snuggling it in bed (not that she went to sleep) and carrying it around in her Minnie Mouse bucket. Love.

7 Year Old Problems: "I wish I was dancing, but I'm too busy reading."

While watching Baby Einstein.

Allergic: Maggie keeps saying that she is allergic to certain things. I asked her what she thought "allergic" meant and she said, "It means you don't like something." I gave her a real explanation. Hopefully she's not singing "Try it! Try it! You might find that you like it!" to her friends who "don't like" nuts.

Another Post About Gender: Mom, I learned about lions today.
Cool, what did you learn?
That the male is the boy and the female is the girl.

Lettuce Milkshake: I recently started a healthy living challenge with a bunch of my friends. You earn points every day for things like exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, and avoiding treats. I was eager to sign up because I ate way too much Easter candy and was feeling gross. It's been easier than I thought to go without candy and other treats. And when I did have my day off on Saturday and had some cheesecake, I felt kind of gross. I've also been enjoying getting extra exercise into my day. Also on the to do: 64 ounces of water, and a food journal.

I've been getting into green smoothies to get my vegetable servings in for the challenge. I've been mostly having them as a mid-morning snack. Dalton has enjoyed most of my experiments (the first one was pretty bad).

Today we went to the beach after school, so I made a big smoothie for dinner when we came home. I was wary of Maggie trying it but she was VERY impressed.

"What kind of milkshake is this?"
It's a smoothie.
Is it a green smoothie? What is in it besides lettuce?
It's spinach. Coconut, blueberries, strawberries...
Mmmm! Coconut! It's so good!

Oddly enough, Dalton didn't care for that one.

I Don't Think That's a Compliment: I was singing in the car when Dalton interrupted. (He thinks interrupting is SO rude, unless it's him interrupting someone singing.)

Shhhh! Quiet! You made me want to take off my shoes.

Mad Gab: Dalton and I did a Lego Friends Mad Gab together. Obviously he had Daddy on his mind.

Hey! Let's sleep to the Daddy after this! I want to get dressed a new green water park.

We've been swimming for 4 days! I'm so happy with my dad that I could paint a slide.

Did you see my dive off of the swimming pool? I practiced it about 4 times, until I could snuggle Daddy through the air like a crocodile and a shark.

Yeah! That was green! Teach us how to play games on the computer it but let's give my dad hugs and kisses some chocolate toast first!

We should try to type an underwater snackbar someday so that we never have to run or practice cartwheels out of the pool!

My Dad: For my Throwback Thursday post on Instagram this week, I wrote about my dad.

April and May mark the bookends of my parents' lives. My dad was a track star, a cheerleader and played the clarinet in the UCLA marching band. He was a computer programmer when computers were huge. He was a science teacher and a cross-country coach, a family historian, a bishop and a choir director. He grew a fabulous garden, took us on outings, and painted stripes on my nails. He died of AIDS at 43. #tbt

Kind of more things he did in the outside world. While writing the post, I thought of a lot of other things he did that meant more to me personally. He read us bedtime stories. I remember sitting on my parents bed, digging in the drawers of their headboard while he read. He took the long way home. He stopped at Podunk, Everywhere to see all the sights along the way. He took us to the zoo, to Disneyland, to museums, to see the stars. He played Uno with us during Spending Time on Sundays (which I now see is the equivalent of my kids' Daddy Home Day). He did jigsaw puzzles and cooked. He camped and hiked and carried kids on his shoulders. I think we would have made a fabulous grandpa and I wish my kids had him around.

Doll in the Nursery: Sienna went to nursery for the first time. John and I ended up having to both go to sharing time with our class and to help with the music. She was really grumpy during class so we ended up putting her in nursery so to not disrupt sharing time. She cried the whole time.

I feel bad that she didn't have a good first experience in nursery, especially since I think she will normally really like it. I guess it was just a grumpy day.

And luckily I had brought her doll to church because when we picked her up she had attached to one of the nursery dolls and I had to do a bait and switch.

Next Sunday is Mother's Day and I hope the church part at least goes better then last year.

The Ten Second Rule: I took the little ones to lunch with some out-of-town friends at Downtown Disney yesterday. Sienna threw her first couple French fries on the ground because they were too hot, so after her meal when she was wandering around, she went back to them. We had just finished a conversation about nursing the third child in public.

Friend: She's eating French fries off the floor.

Me: Oh, that's ok.

Friend: Ok, just thought you might want to know.

Me: Third child, you know. As long as she's not eating the stepped on ones. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Friend's husband: You and your moral high ground. No eating stepped-on French fries!

Compliment Me: Someone complimented my swimming suit at the Legoland water park today. It made me feel great! But it also made me feel bad because I had thought two nice things about other women at the park earlier and didn't get a chance to say them. Never suppress a generous impulse!

Date Night Shopping: Tonight John and I got to go on a last minute date. We watched a friends' kid overnight last night, so she offered to babysit for us tonight. We didn't have anything planned, but why not? We went shopping at Target and Old Navy and had dinner (?) at Wetzel's Pretzels. We went all out and got dip for our pretzels and a frozen lemonade.

We bought two pairs of shorts for John; capris, a t-shirt and some beach shorts for me; a dress with bloomers and a shirt and capris for Sienna. It was so nice to shop kid free! And try stuff on! And not hear whining! John didn't even whine a tiny bit.

Clean House, Move Down: For Mother's Day John scheduled for a someone to clean our house for three hours. He figured that would last about the same amount of time as flowers. He was right.

Best gift ever, though! Thanks, hon!

Eat (Veggies), Drink (Water) and Exercise: I am doing an 8-week healthy living challenge with a bunch of my friends. The main components are exercising, drinking lots of water, eating fruits and veggies and no sugar/treats. I like it because it's not faddish, it's not extreme, it's entirely doable, and it's motivating with all your friends doing it. You can only earn points for exercising up to 5 days/week, and you get a free day on the sugar, too.

We started right after Easter and I really needed it after binging on Easter candy and who knows what else. I've found that I do a lot better with zero treats (a small piece of dark chocolate is allowed). Today is my first sugar day in 12 days because I used mine up on the first day last week. Let me tell you, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Hopefully I can avoid crazy sugar habit after this.

Big Bear Lake: We are back from a relaxing long weekend in Big Bear. This vacation was planned before John's last minute business trip to Buenos Aires, and if we hadn't already paid for our rental condo, we would have cancelled. But we didn't and we had fun!

We went on the alpine slide. only two people could ride in the lift at a time, so Maggie got to go by herself. She also went on the slide by herself, and loved it. All the kids loved the slide. It was not nearly as long ast the one in Park City and pretty dinged up and bumpy, but we had a great time.

We also took the lift at Snow Summit up to do some hiking. We did the 1 mile mountain top loop, which is plenty of hiking with the kids. There was some rock scrambling and some animal spotting action as well.

Then we went on a cruise around the lake on the Miss Liberty. Sienna did not fully appreciate it. As in, she ran around the whole time, barefoot because we were afraid she was going to throw her shoes overboard. But it was a nice tour.

We made another stop at the alpine slide on our way out of town. A great view from the top and a little energy out before the vomit-inducing car ride home.

She Has a Point... Sort Of:
Maggie: I want Lego Chima Lion Temple and Mario Kart for Christmas.
Me: Those are two expensive things.
Maggie: But if we get them for Christmas it's FREE! That's why you ask for it for Christmas, so you don't have to pay for it.
Me: Oh. ...

Also: Can we look on the computer for a toy broomstick that maybe goes one inch above the ground?

[Comments] (1) Sew On, Bernina: You sit down at the table. Your hands slip the fabric under the needle. The machine roars affirmatively, bringing life to helpless fabric, rising memories, maybe even shaking the table a little bit.

This is your mother's sewing machine. This is how she sewed. This is how sewing is meant to be.

Except. $200 later, the machine works again and now instead of roaring, it purrs. A very quiet, happy purr. The table doesn't shake. I am actually SHOCKED that the machine isn't supposed to sound like that. I feel like I was lied to my entire childhood.

And it sews beautifully.

It's amazing. I had to stop after one rolled hem to blog about it. I might even cry.

The repair man told me on the phone that the bracket holding the motor in place was loose. Looking back (at the last 20 years of my life), it does seem rather obvious.

Busy Saturday: On Saturday, each of the kids had a birthday party to attend. Dalton went to a Frozen party (they've been going to a lot of Frozen parties lately). All of Dalton's friends are girls, so he was the only boy except the birthday girl's big brother. Not that he noticed or minded. They played Pin the Nose on Olaf and threw paper snowballs at the Abominable Snowman.

Maggie went to a party for one of the girls in her class at school. It was a reptile party. I think it's awesome that she and all the girls in her class her handling tarantulas and huge snakes.

The timing of the parties also left us with alone time with each of the kids. John took Maggie for a hike in the morning and took Dalton shopping in the afternoon. Sienna and I attended the Frozen party with Dalton, then I finished sewing while she took a nap.

We also went over to some friends' to play games. Always fun to get invited to do stuff!

Dot Dot Electric Shock: Maggie learned a new hand game at school yesterday. After school she and her friend taught it to all the boys at the park, and to Dalton and now they are obsessed.

Tic Tac Toe
Give me an X
Give me an O
Give me a three in a row

Johnny got hit by a UFO

Line Line Number Nine
Spiders crawling up your spine
Dot Dot Electric Shock!

Over It: John and I took cheesy quizzes to see what songs were written about us. I got Pharrwll Williams' Happy. John got Journey's Don't Stop Believing with a cheesy description about spreading the faith.

Me: That's not you! You worry too much.
John: About what?
Me: I don't know. Money.
John: Money? That's so 7 years ago!

Sienna Speaks: Sienna's vocabulary has increased tremendously this week. It's really amazing to watch her learn.Here are just a few of the words she can say. They pretty much all sound like two or three different sounds, so it's really based on context, but SHE knows what she's saying.

Nee (horse neighing - uses it for anything with four legs that doesn't look like a dog)
Change (diaper)
Baby (also for doll)
Bye bye (die die - also says for all done, and if we're going in the car)

She also started pointing to her diaper when she uses it and saying "wawa", whatever that is. When she first did it I said, "did you go potty?" and signed potty and she ran into the bathroom. A great first step!

Mommy Level 3: Today we went to the Safari Park for what we plan to be the last time before our passes expire next month. The new tiger exhibit was open, so it was fun to see that, go on the tram, feed the lorikeets etc.

I was so tired that I dozed on the way home, and just wanted to take a real nap. Instead, I took Dalton swimming. He recently reached level 4 at swim lessons, but had yet to put it to the test in real life. It took him a while to warm up to the pool and be willing to swim on his own, but I was able to get him to cross the width of the pool on his own, with some strong arms and a couple rollovers. We called it "Mommy level 3." Then we hung out in the hot tub. Love my good swimmer boy.

Tweety Beep: Sienna is obsessed with Twitter. You know, the bird. DOOdooo as she calls it. She sees the icon on our TV, or on Instagram or the computer (since I don't actually really use Twitter) and gets so excited.

: I've been missing my grandmas lately. Realistically speaking, this is Grandma Rosie and Grandma June. Grandma called me Sugar, a little bit of the Southern in her I guess. There's something enormously comforting about a hug from a comfy old woman who calls you Sugar.

I miss visitng Grandma June, doing puzzles with her, watching her get her "dying" body down on the floor to play with the kids, and fully appreciating every moment I spent with her, every errand I drove her on, every piece of chocolate cake I brought her. Few people in my life have made me feel so appreciated.

Even longer than this bout of grandma-missing, I've been noticing grandmas out and about. And taking notes for when I'm a grandparent. Seriously.

Diet's Over: We had caramel corn for lunch.

I finished the Healthy Living Challenge. I didn't finish strong, kinda gave up on the no sugar the last week, but I did finish. It's nice to eat what I want and not have to write it down! The food journal was getting really annoying.

I am still exercising though because I made a slinky dress to wear to Rachel's wedding.

The Maker's Schedule: I had no idea what this article was talking about at first, but I soon realized, "That's so me!" I am a maker. A single meeting can disrupt an entire afternoon. A single "thing to do". In my care, it's not likely a meeting but a school pick up, an errand, an activity for the kids. One thing we have to do that makes me feel like I can't do anything else near that time. I have to plan around it. I do feel a great sense of freedom when I have a day with no scheduled activities. Looking forward to the freedom of summer.

Beyond Let It Go: We are getting tired of Sienna saying "Let it go" all the time but I pointed out to John that sometimes she will hand you something and say "here you go" or point to a car and say "there they go bye bye". She also says "let's go" when we get in the car.

This morning when I went into her room, she was pointing at one of the Winnie the Pooh friends on her crib sheet and saying "where'd it go?" With her little hands upturned. So cute. She's blossoming into a lot of early speech, like her brother.

Sweet Talker: Sienna said two phrases today. I asked her where her other shoe was and she went to the table and pointed under saying, "there it is!"

We borrowed a monkey leash for her to use on our trip to Europe and she loves it. Today she was wearing it around the house on her front and she told me "monkey says ooh ooh ahh!"

Save Here, Splurge There: So excited for our trip to Europe! We leave tonight!

I was just thinking how blessed, lucky, we've been (and what a smart planner I've married) because we haven't had to pay for this trip out of savings. We've carefully saved and paid for things as they came up, used our tax refund and cashed my WAH money to pay for everything in advance, with cash on hand for food and transportation and souvenirs. We've really paid for everything else already! All without taking money out of savings, or missing any of our regular savings transfers.

Rachel's long engagement and my working at home sure helped there. Plenty of time to save and plan, and earn a little extra.

We love to travel and are blessed we can save hard to do so.

Sienna's Baby Blessing: I recorded Sienna's baby blessing on my phone, but never did anything with it. Here are a few notes of things John blessed her with.

love and kindness as a gift to share with others
health and strength, mentally strong
desire to seek learning
sensitive to choosing things that are right because it's the right thing to do and will bring you happiness

Disney Day, Paris Style: Today started with an early wake up call. We fully enjoyed two hours of magic morning in Disneyland Paris park, much of which we were practically the only people there. We rode twice in a row on Peter Pan, which is otherwise unheard of. We tried out Space Mountain Mission 2 which has cool planet effects (and a loop and corkscrews...) Indiana jones and other new/different rides. We went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. We got lost in Alice's Curious Labyrinth. We made use of our rain gear, untouched from five days in London.

Now at the end of the day I am listening to the sound of rain coming through our open hotel window. Accompanied by Sienna's snores, the sound is a perfect ending to a busy fun Disney day.

The Simple Life: I am not working this summer. I haven't had time to enjoy the break yet, since we've been travelling. But this week the kids have gymnastics camp for 6 hours, so I think it will hit me how much free time I have and how enjoyable to spend time with my baby!

Coming up: Baking, beach and the temple.

We actually have a lot going on this summer. I mean, the vacation already took up two weeks. Then gymnastics camp, then Hero Camp the next week. The last week of July we are planning to get Disneyland passes, plus finish up with Legoland and San Diego somewhere in there.

Then in August John's brother's family is visiting, then his mom. John has to travel two weeks that month as well.

So it's going to be plenty busy, but I still plan to have lots of time to enjoy the beach! After all, I don't have gymnastics camp.

I Should Have Seen This Coming: This morning when I dropped the kids off at gymnastics camp, Maggie was identified as Dalton's sister. Which is not surprising to anyone who knows Dalton.

Back in the Kitchen: On the menu today:

Peanut butter chocolate chip muffins (with my Maggie helper, another delicious early breakfast thanks to jetlag)
Peach cobbler from the last frozen peach cobbler filling
Crock pot refried beans
Tortillas (hopefully trying out my new wheat grinder since I used up all my store bought whole wheat in the pretzels)

I've missed being able to cook up food for my family the last couple of weeks. Coupled with my new found free time (no work, and the big kids at camp), a baking day seemed in order.

Plus, as long as I keep cooking, I don't have to clean the floor.

I've long said of myself that I like to cook, but I don't like having to cook. This leads me to take "days off" when I know John won't be home. I've been really lazy about making dinner for my family these last few months. Part of it is that I never know when John will be home for dinner, if at all. It always seems like on days I go through the effort of making a nice meal, the kids complain and want frozen food and John comes home late and already fed. But, here's to more real food coming out of my kitchen.

A Trip to Europe: Well, I am apparently not going to do a full travelogue on our trip to Europe, but here is a summary. Links to photo blog posts. (ETA: This turned out much longer than I anticipated and I separated Rachel's Wedding and Paris.)

Flight there: Within minutes of boarding, Dalton had charmed multiple flight attendants into fulfilling his every whim. How many flight attendants does it take to turn on Frozen? At least two. The kids watched a movie, ate dinner, then got a decent night's sleep. Sienna was a great sleeper, she slept a solid 8 hours in the bassinet.

We had great weather in London. Hardly any rain for 5 days. It rained most of the time we were in Paris, and a drizzle our last day in London, but we got all five of London's summer days.

Monday night: Arrive, fish 'n' chips with Rachel and Brett

Tuesday: St. Paul's Cathedral. We hiked to the top with Leonard. Then we met Rachel and went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, except we did no hopping off. We rode the bus for 4 hours, saw most of the city while the kids played and Sienna took a nap. That night I met some family members at an Italian restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday: Walked across Tower Bridge with Leonard, then around the Tower of London. A much shorter bridge walk than the last one we did with Leonard (Golden Gate). I think we can call this a fun tradition now that we walked at least three famous bridges.

Wednesday afternoon was our Harry Potter studio tour with Jill, Laura, Rachel and Rachel's friend Jenn. It was awesome. There were so many props and sets and costumes, as well as outdoor sets, creature exhibits. It was really neat to see, and the kids loved it, too! We got the kids pen wands for 10 pounds and they've enjoyed playing with them.

Thursday morning: We wanted to do the zoo, but we decided to let the kids sleep in, and there wasn't time. Instead we went to the London Science Museum, which had a lot of hands on stuff the kids enjoyed.

Thursday afternoon was the wedding rehearsal at Rachel's house. Then we went to pictures>The Crown Pub for dinner with the extended family and lots of friends. It was so fun to see many Whitney and Richardson relatives come all the way to London! I nursed Sienna to sleep in the pub, which struck me as odd, but keep reading; this was not the most awkward place I nursed her this trip.

Friday: We had planned to go to Warwick Castle, but I woke up feeling very unwell and Sienna was beyond grumpy. John and Leonard took the kids and Sienna and I stayed home to rest. My cousin Alyson had spent the night, so once Sienna and I were feeling rested (and less nauseous, bleh) the three of us went for a walk in Hyde Park. We rode the carousel, peeked at Kensington Palace, and saw the LDS church.

Saturday was Rachel and Brett's Wedding.

Sunday-Wednesday was in Paris.

Wednesday night we returned back to London and stayed at the Park Plaza hotel with a great view of the London Eye. The London Eye was our Thursday morning activity. It was really neat! The capsule felt so safe and secure, the kids enjoyed running around, and of course the view. Afterwards, we met Rachel and Brett for some breakfast before we headed to the airport. It was great to see them one last time.

The flight home wasn't quite as nice as the one out. I barely got an hour sleep, and Sienna was on me most of the flight. We counted it as a nap and went to bed when we got home. Still, no screaming was involved.

Disneyland Paris: Sunday: We took the Eurostar to Paris and went to Walt Disney Studios Park. The best part of this day was getting a sneak peek of the new Ratatouille ride, which officially opened the day after we left. We also popped into Disneyland Paris, but Sienna was so done by this point, I had to just take her back to the hotel. We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge, with a nice Western America theme... for reals, we stayed in the Yellowstone Lodge.

Monday was our Paris tour. We stopped at the Louvre where we spent most of our time looking for a crepe stand. Then we went on a Seine river boat tour, and up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. We were kind of bored on the river boat tour, having just seen lots of old buildings in London. This is just not our thing, especially with kids. We would have preferred walking along the river, perhaps with a picnic, but it just wasn't feasible. John took the kids to the hotel pool after the tour. They LOVED it, with a water slide and a giant yoga mat thing they could walk on the water with.

It was fun to go on the Eiffel tower with the kids. The queue for the lift back down was long, so we walked down all the stairs! Sienna even walked most of the stairs down, because she is a trooper like that. Then, we got more crepes, and some nice pictures.

Tuesday we went to Disneyland Paris to do it justice. We took advantage of 2 hours of Magic Morning. The first thing we did was go on Peter Pan. Twice in a row. With no one else anywhere nearby. Sienna cried. We did most of Fantasyland, then took turns on Space Mountain Mission 2. When the park officially opened at 10, it started raining, but we had come prepared. We took turns on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and went on the Haunted Manor ride. We explored Adventure Isle and went on Pirates. Had Mexican food (?) for lunch. Then we went back to the hotel for a nap.

We made it back to the park for the parade, and to finish up Fantasyland. Small world was fun, and we all really liked Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

Wednesday we went back to Walt Disney Studios, but we found there wasn't much to do since we didn't want to wait in line for adult coasters. We saw a couple shows, then left for lunch and more Disneyland Paris. We rode the train around, then did it's a small world and the girls rode the carousel one last time, while the boys did Pirates. We met at the stroller which had been sitting in the rain that whole time. Oops.

Then it was the train back to London for bed!

Rachel's Wedding: Saturday: Wedding Day! Rachel and Brett's wedding was beautiful and I think just how she wanted it to be. Maggie and I went over to start getting ready. Maggie spent most of the time looking for Tonks. We had our hair done, the boys arrived with the littlies, and we all got dressed in our fancies. Then, we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the Hackney Town Hall. A photographer was there documenting the entire thing. The kids' were darling and Sienna only slightly misbehaved during the ceremony (crying out when the registrar asked for objections, scooting over to me in the bridesmaid line and hoping no one would notice). Rachel asked Aunt Pat to be her witness, which I thought was wonderful.

We took pictures outside, there was a cocktail reception, then a buffet dinner. The cocktail hour seemed like a good time to put Sienna down for a nap. Brett's father was resting in the office reserved for the bridal party, so I continued through the next door into the formal council room, and excellent place to nurse a baby.

Alyson held Sienna for an hour while I ate dinner (gumbo!). The kids sat with Pat and Shannon, which was perfect. Everyone had a good time that way! My kids are hilarious. Brett's dad gave an awesome speech. I gave a speech as well, which everyone said was good and made them tear up because, you know, us poor orphans. It wasn't that great, but it was something.

After dinner there was cupcakes and dancing. Maggie was so excited to learn there was dancing at the wedding, and she made great use of it. Hopefully people will send me videos I can share; she was awesome. John took the little ones home early - or tried to. He got lost in scary London, Sienna with no shoes, poor tired kids. He barely made it home before Leonard, Maggie and I.

I got lots of compliments on the kids wedding clothes which I made (Maggie Dalton Sienna). I also made my bridesmaid dress, and a dress for Rachel from the same pattern, which she wore to the friends and family dinner. I'm really pleased with how everything turned out, which is how I imagine Rachel feels about her whole lovely wedding. She was a beautiful bride and I think everything was just what she wanted.

Grown Up Maggie-isms: Can you stop talking? I'm busy reading.

And while I was playing the piano: I don't mind if you make a mistake, just keep playing.

What I Like About Not Working: When Sienna gets her shoes and says "walk?" And I say "yes."

Tonight I sat down at the computer to upload our pictures and work on my personal photo blog. And I lost track of time. It was so wonderful to be doing something enjoyable and engrossing like that, just for me. Especially since my time on the computer lately has been minimal. I still need to wean a bit more off my phone, but I'm glad the computer time suck is slowing down for summer.

Princess Sienna: When Sienna carried her bag of blocks around the house, I thought she wanted to play blocks (silly mommy). Turns out, she wanted the ONE princess toy we have in the house - Ariel Megabloks. I think it's time to get this girl some princess toys. She yells "let it go!" at anything that resembles a castle (temples, Disney movie credits, castles...), anything that resembles snow (fake Frozen snow, basically), and Ariel or Rapunzel (the only other princesses she recognizes, for some reason). We've been patiently waiting Frozen stuff to come down in price, and also the 20% merchandise discount we get at Disneyland. Princess toys, coming soon.

Rain Shower: Dalton hates getting his hair cut, mostly because he hates the shower and I always make him shower afterwards. Since he liked the "rain shower" at our flat in London, today I just switched our shower head to "rain shower" mode for him and all was well. And if you are 3'6", that would be the same mode everyone else calls "shower." I'm not sure if that's mean mom or genius, but it worked, so no harm done.

Maggie Grows Up: Miss Margaret is at the cusp of becoming helpful and responsible. I've noticed more and more lately that she is capable to doing things like watching Sienna for a split-second. Sometimes she is more helpful than whiny. And she is over the fact that she is too big for the stroller and doesn't complain about how tired she is.

She is still our clueless, innocent little girl, but she sure is growing up fast.

In Summer: This is what summer's all about. John took the morning off work and we went to DCA to celebrate our anniversary. We got to take Sienna on Ariel's Undersea Adventure ("Lala" is her favorite princess at the moment).

Sienna was napping by 12:30 and John left for work shortly after. Maggie is reading Imogen the Ice Dance Fairy and Dalton is downstairs playing with his race track. I did the laundry in peace and now for some online swimsuit shopping. Ahhh, summer!

Hummus Taco: When I asked Maggie what she wanted in her taco for lunch she said, "hummus, whipped cream, cheese--" Wait, what? I knew the whipped cream was sour cream, but hummus? Turns out she meant avocado.

Change Me: Sienna has progressed from saying "wawa" everytime she uses her diaper, to bringing me a clean one when hers is dirty. She still asks to sit on the potty all the time, but has never actually used it.

Save $2 Now: This week I bought a gallon of whole milk for Sienna for the first time. I've been buying a half gallon of whole milk for $3.69 at Trader Joe's. The gallon was $5.99. She's finally drinking more than the half gallon in a week's time, so I figured I'd oblige her. Then, I realized she can start drinking 2% milk when she turns 2, which is in just three months.

Only three months of buying a gallon of whole milk? What? After a minute I realized it's because I'm still breastfeeding her. Wow, breastfeeding doesn't save much money once kids are off formula.

I didn't intend to be breastfeeding a toddler and honestly, it weirds me out if I think too much about it. But here we are.

Sorry, Mom: This week, for the first time in years, I cried from missing my mom so much.

Maggie and I were having quite the morning of disagreement. I thought about times that I argued with my mom and then felt so awful that I could remember arguing with her. Either because that means I have many more years of this, or because now I'm a mom and I know what it feels like to have my daughter act like an annoying brat! I wanted to tell her I was sorry, and she was right, and thanks for being my mom. And I couldn't.

One of the most helpless feelings in the world is needing to talk to someone who is dead. I cried and cried about it.

On the bright side, Maggie changed her attitude and did the dishes (after two hours of arguing).

School Begins: We made it to the third day of school without any tears. Dalton was very tired when he woke up this morning - his school begins at 7:55. He complained that it was "too long" and didn't want to get early, but using our good attitudes, we got him out the door with smiles. He likes his class, other than how early it is.

Maggie is enjoying second grade. She has two friends from Primary right at her table and her teacher is fantastic.

Sienna is liking her alone time with mommy. We are getting a nice schedule set up. Music Makers on Wednesday, park day on Thursday, and parent-tot gymnastics on Friday. First gymnastics class tomorrow!

Lil Gymnast: Today was Sienna's first day of parent-tot gymnastics class. It was darling. There were three other little toddler girls. They crawled and climbed and slid over an obstacle course, jumped on the trampoline, hung from the bars, raced on the floor (the point of which was to get them away from mom - hurray!) and jumped in the pit. Sienna can't jump with two feet yet - she just takes a big, giant step, and it's adorable.

I'm really excited to have this time with her every week.

A Bug's Beep: The kids watched at least part of A Bug's Life every day this week. this morning we were in California Adventure at opening. Sienna and I got in line for Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers, then went to A Bug's Land. We went on Flik's Flyers. By ourselves. Then we went on the Ladybug Boogie with two other people, who were going on it a second time. Then we went to Heimlich's Chew Chew Train and rode it, by ourselves, three times in a row. Sienna was loving it, since we have seen the show so much this week.

After lunch, John suggested seeing the It's Tough to Be a Bug show, so we did that. Poor Dalton got frightened when the room filled with fog and spiders descended from the ceiling, but Sienna was loving all her bug friends, including Hopper. She just pointed around excitedly.

Phrase of the Week: Sienna is at that phase where she learns a new word of phrase and uses it over and over. First it was "Where'd it go?", then it was "Me!" raising her hand up high.

Now she says, "I did it!" It's just "did it!" and it's so adorable to see that big proud smile on her face when she buckles her own seatbelt, or cleans something up.

Monday: We had a busy day today. I made some peanut butter chocolate chip muffins last night so Dalton would have a happy breakfast to see him off to school. I set my alarm for 6:30 because I started working again today. Hopefully just half an hour or so a day. I read scriptures and washed my face while the computer turned on. Then I did 20 minutes of work and had plenty of time to get ready, get Maggie and Sienna ready, and play with the girls for a while.

Sienna and I played at the park for a few minutes with a friend after dropping Maggie off. Then we went to Walmart and Costco, and even delivered some groceries to a friend before picking Dalton up. After lunch, Sienna took a nap and a friend came over to be babysat/play with Dalton. The boys played very well together until we went to get Maggie. Maggie did some homework and we sat around playing until time for dinner - ward FHE in the park. I finished the tutu for Sienna's Halloween costume, and refereed fights.

FHE at the park was great. We had some good food and talked with friends and Sienna ran wild. Then we came home and got kids in bed. I'm going to bed early so I can keep up my work-before-the-kids-get-up routine.

Date Night: John and I went on a date on Saturday night. My babysitter went to BYU, so we're going to the opposite end of the spectrum with an almost-13 year old who lives nearby.

We missed some of our pre-planned, pre-paid dates from the summer, so I took the money from two of the months and we did the activity for the other month - Cheesecake Factory, and picking out an anniversary gift for each other at Target with $5 gift cards. John bought me some delicious fancy chocolate, and I got him a pair of snazzy socks for work.

All this took much less time than anticipated, so we went to the pool and put our feet in the kiddie pool and just talked.

Marvelous Margaret: Maggie brought home an award from school. They do four awards monthly, and this is the third year in a row (which is all of them, if you're keeping track) that she's gotten one the first month. (First Grade, Kindergarten)

The award was for Showing Respect and Responsibility and the teacher commented: Maggie I love the wonderful example you set for the class by being a great listener. You make our class a better place to learn.

Pumpkin Spiced Love: Yesterday I went to four different stores looking for pumpkin spice m and ms that. John saw at Target and wanted for his primary lesson. I eventually found them at Target, in a box labelled "exclusively at Target." D'oh!

Not sure why I went all crazy finding the m and ms but I remembered that John's love language is Acts of Service so hopefully he appreciated it! Then he told me he forgot to give me one of my birthday presents, a giant box of See's candy. True love.

New Phrase: Sienna has started saying "okay". It's adorable ("ah-tay") AND she is constantly agreeing with me! Awesome.

Buzz: The other day I happened to walk by and be the first person on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters as it opened for the day. You'd think it'd be easier to hit the targets when you can actually see which dot is yours (being the only one). It wasn't.

Blogged from Buzz Lightyear, since my kiddos are taking up the guns.

Dubious Honor: Congrats to Dalton, the first of our children to throw up in a toilet. Bonus points for a) giving me ten seconds notice b) raising himself from facefirst on my pillow and c) not screaming.

She's an Aggie : If you ask Sienna what her name is, she will say "Aggie." Try it. This is what she calls Maggie. She calls Dalton "Daggie". Suffice it to say she adores her sister.

In other situations, she refers to herself as Nenna. Or, more specifically, she refers to her things as belonging to Nenna. Pointing to mom's plate "mama!" Pointing to her plate "Nenna." Must establish ownership.

Daltons and Sense: Dalton is trying to raise money so he can "spend lots and lots and lots of things." John just paid $2.05 to rent a stuffed Lightning McQueen for the evening. It's a steal compared to his other rental car.

Dalton mentioned that his money bank wouldn't close. The lid kept popping off (it's one of those tootsie roll banks.) I told him I'd get him an envelope for his dollars and I pulled them out of the bank. He had $41, including a $20 and $10. Hmm. I asked him if he took it from Maggie, which he denied.
At my school my teacher gave me lots of dollars.
Tell me the truth.
That is the truth.
Well, if that's the truth, your teacher is in trouble.
Then... there is no truth!

Eventually, he admitted to taking it from Maggie. I made him give it back to her and apologize. Luckily, I warned her what had happened and told her to be nice to him, so she was done being angry by the time he gave it back.

Sienna threw Maggie's coin bank down the stairs. I heard Dalton helping her clean it up and talking in his baby voice about "big and little circles" and "silver and bronze."

Like Grandpa: The other day, Dalton fell of the toilet, hit his head on the toilet paper holder, and broke the plastic spring roll. Sadly, I couldn't stop laughing.

Apparently, replacement springs are only $.97 at Walmart. Good to know.

Sienna's Disneyland: A couple years ago I did a post on the silly names Dalton called Disneyland rides. Well, it's time to start one for Sienna.

Pirates: Doo doo (which is, of course, the sound a bird makes. Even a bird that is yelling "Yo ho!")
Lala: Ariel
Dee Dee: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Beep Beep)
Neigh Neigh: (carousel)
Doo: Pooh, and most of his friends.
Doo Doo: Train (choo choo)

We also say "whee!" in general, for rides.

Dalton is 5: Dalton turned 5 this past week. He remains the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful boy I know. He must get it from his Daddy, who is also very thoughtful. He is still generally a good listener, but has developed a bit of stubbornness about doing the dishes. He is also very sensitive and cries at the drop of a hat on days he doesn't get enough sleep. At least i'm still blaming it on that. I've been blaming it on that since he stopped napping three years ago.

He is really enjoying school. He loves telling me what he did every day, showing me his worksheets, practicing making patterns and writing letters. And making friends.

For Dalton's birthday, I made BYU mint brownies, frosted like Mike and Sulley from the Monsters movies. We had some friends over for brownies that night, but his "party" was doing to Disneyland with a friend after school the next day. I bought them treats and let him pick all the rides and they had a good time.

He got a new two-wheeled scooter from us and his grandparents. We also got him some Berenstain Bears books, a Snoopy shirt, an Olaf shirt (and a matching one for Sienna) and a Monsters University hat, which is also part of his Halloween costume. He looks adorable in it. His friend who came to Disneyland gave him a little battery-powered shark that swims around in the bathtub, an aquarium, or the pool. The kids love it.

Dalton Doesn't Break His Foot: Sienna's been a crazy, grumpy screamer. I figured maybe she needs more attention and love, so the other day we went to the park instead of sitting around at home. The kids scootered over and I pushed Sienna in the tricycle. Then I paid attention to her and played with her. And during that time, Dalton got hurt. Apparently, he tried to cross the monkey bars, couldn't do it (obv) and dropped down. A parent standing nearby offered to help him down, but he said no, because he didn't know the guy (which is unusual, because Dalton loves adults).

He wasn't able to walk on it, and he was crying very hard and very loud. After about 5 minutes of trying to figure out how I was going to get everyone and everything home, a kind woman offered to help me by wearing her baby and putting Sienna in her stroller. Then I was able to push Dalton in the tricycle and carry his scooter while Maggie scootered home. Whew.

The next morning Dalton still couldn't walk on his foot, so I took him to the pediatrician who sent him downstairs for an x-ray. I was surprised to discover that the hospital didn't have Dalton in their system. Which means it's been over 2 years since he had a crash. Luckily, there wasn't a fracture, so it was just a sprain. We wrapped it up, and he's been enjoying the attention of hobbling around school with one shoe.

Bonk: The other day at Music Makers, Sienna was running around like a crazy toddler, amidst other crazy toddlers running around, and she ran smack into one of her little friends. He's not so little - weighs more than Dalton though he is a month older than Sienna. So at first I thought they bumped heads, but really she bumped her head on his nose. He got a bloody nose and she got a bump on her forehead, but the hilarious part was that she bounced straight back and landed flat on her back on the floor. Like hitting a brick wall.

Halloween Dinner: I just got a pizza made, from scratch, jack-o-lantern shaped, and in the oven in less than 15 minutes. Sometimes I even amaze myself.

Dalton on Technology : Me, looking for a requested Disney song: Just a minute, I not sure what Cd it's on.

Dalton: It's on blu-Ray!

Dalton: What are those CD glasses for? (3D glasses)

Sienna Isn't 2: I have to keep reminding myself that Sienna is still a 1 year old. She's growing up so fast. We have a collection of Disney CDs in our car that has somewhat molded her preferences. She was quite obsessed with Ursula for a while ("Keep singing!"). Then I Just Can't Wait to Be King. She still loves Heigh Ho; she has a set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves little people toys she she carries around "heigh ho-ing" with. Now it is Jack and Oogie Boogie. Jack this, and Jack that. She goes to a neighbor's house a couple days a week so I can run in peace, and she always insists on watching The Nightmare Before Christmas there. She points out Jack on people's t-shirts. She screams for joy when we ride Haunted Mansion Holiday. Seriously.

New things she's learned to say are: Oogie Boogie, fruitie (applesauce squeezie), Whoosh E Gaga, Nursery (doesn't sound a thing like Nursery, but I'm glad she's asking to go!), Bubbles.

We've decided to leave her in her crib for the time being, though the other two moved out around 2. Also, I thought she'd be the one to start climbing out, but it hasn't happened yet.

Sleeping Baby: Sienna will be two in a few days, so she's not really a baby anymore. She's refused to nap the past three days, so she fell asleep nursing at bedtime (6:00) tonight. I took a few extra moments to snuggle my sleepy (heavy) baby girl before I put her in bed. Who knows how many times I'll be able to do that anymore!

Lost at Disneyland: Two of our kids got lost at Disneyland and, considering their ages and Sienna's propensity to run away, probably not the two you might think.

John and the kids had Fastpasses to Star Tours, so they went to do that while Sienna and I got in line for Buzz Lightyear. But when I turned around, Maggie was with me! I saw John waiting to get into the Fastpass line at Star Tours so I told Maggie "Daddy's getting in the Fastpass line. Hurry! Run!" Apparently, she entered the line and worked her way all the way up to the front while John was waiting to get in. When she got to the front and still hadn't found him, so told the cast member she couldn't find her dad and waited there for him. She got a little teary but she was so brave they gave her a free pass to go on any ride! John made his way up there, quite unconcerned about Maggie since he thought she was with me. And there she was.

We went on Small World Holiday and when we got off, John wanted to take a picture of me and Sienna. Maggie waited for us, but Dalton disappeared on ahead. When we went after him, I found him stickety-stuck, asking a nearby dad for help. Just like he's supposed to!

Sienna turns 2: For Sienna's second birthday we got her Princess Sofia socks, a Rapunzel t-shirt, a stuffed doggie and Sleeping Beauty movie. I'm thinking she doesn't need anything for Christmas a few short weeks after that haul.

Weird Thing to Say: "Mouse and rats can fit under our stroller." Dalton

Other Side: Sienna phrase of the month: dah die - other side. She first said this when I was giving her tons of kisses near her ear to ask for kisses on the other side. She still mostly uses it for more kisses, but she's also used it for putting pants on, and a backpack. It's adorable. Who wouldn't love a toddler asking for more kisses?

Siiick: Dalton is really sick. Boo.

: While Dalton was sick I missed two planned Disneyland trips. Sad! We finally made it yesterday after school. Met up with a couple friends, did a couple rides, the kids were well-behaved, and we made it home before bedtime. We walked in the door and Sienna threw up all over the kitchen floor. Which is much better than throwing up all over the car, right? She appears to be fine this morning.

Pressies: Kids got lots of stuff for Christmas! Maggie nearly made the naughty list, but apparently, she CAN be good. We started a clip chart and her attitude has been awesome the past few days.

Maggie got:
Wii games, accessories from Uncle Leonard
Wayside School/Fudge books
Angry Birds Stella shirt
skating lessons
owl purse from Auntie Rachel

Dalton got:
his own ipad (Kindle Fire)
Minecraft for his tablet
Minecraft Legos from Uncle Leonard
Minecraft shirt
Bearenstain Bears book
Wooden auto from Auntie Rachel
remote control car

Sienna got:
Princess Little People
Minions shirt

Sledding Day: One of our favorite things about coming to Utah at christmas time is sledding. Maggie has been talking about it for days. She kept asking if we were going to let her go by herself. Well, since we didn't end up going to the cabin, why not? No cars to crash into, no dangerous mountain sides to tip off of.

Jodi and Brook brought us plenty of gear to suit up with. We met at Murray park and had a great time. Maggie was so thrilled to go by herself, she went over and over, hiking up the hill and carrying her own sled every time. She is at a bit of an awkward age with the big gap between her and the older cousins, trying to figure out whIfh group she belongs. She had a blast.

Dalton went with me and John and also by himself. He was mostly able to make it up the hill alone, especially after we moved to a little shorter part.

Sienna went a few times with me and John and then kept saying "no". She wasn't crying, but obviously not loving it. I finally ditched her with grandma and Aunt Jamie. After about an hour she started crying nonstop, I think from the cold, so we all headed back to grandma and grandpa's for our Christmas party. Maggie and Dalton went into the backyard with Kyli to play some more in the snow. Sienna was glad to be done.



© 1999-2021 Susanna Chadwick.