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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.

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