Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Update: Me

IMGP5769

My mantra lately has been:

A sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.

(I am sure my brothers and sisters recognize that phrase.  Our mom used it all the time when we were growing up.  Anyone want to find the source for me?)

I repeat it to myself when I am making decisions for myself and my family and really clears my head.

So here is what I am up to-

About seven months ago, after being inspired to read The China Study, I stopped cooking meat for my family.  We became at-home- (and work and school) vegetarians. When we eat out or at other people’s houses, I don’t really care, because I know that we are eating very well the rest of the time.  For the last four weeks we have been going mostly whole-foods vegan (no animal products – cheese, eggs, milk and no added oil).  It is all for health reasons (and more than just getting skinnier).  I haven’t really talked about it on my blog and my family members slowly found out one by one.  Not because I am ashamed or embarrassed, but because I wanted to try it on and walk around in it before DECLARING it to the world.   It fits really well, and Chad has happy with it, and my kids are adjusting, so there you go…we are mostly vegans these days. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.  This has meant I have completely revamped all my cooking of course, and have tried out many many new recipes.  It has been a lot of work, but totally worth it.  So when I see all those yummy recipes on pinterest and I think, “I just don’t know if I want to give that food up” I remind myself of my mantra.

I have also been exercising, hard, about five times a week.  Again, my mantra.

I have been working as the Young Women’s second counselor.  I had no idea how much work my leaders always did for me as a teenager, or how much they thought/prayed/talked about me.   I had only been in Primary off and on for most of my marriage so this is all a new experience.

Since last October I have been working hard to become a better photographer.  This is something I feel very sheepish  talking about.  Every time I do a photo shoot, I go through through a rollercoaster of emotions –elation, depression, insecurity, embarrassment……You can ask Chad, it is every single time.  This is is the first time in years that I have done something creative and put my work out there in such a public way, and I hate doing it while I know that I have lots of room for improvement .  It is hard, but I also know that those feelings are all feelings of pride that I need to let go, and that the only way I am going to improve is by taking pictures, and taking lots of them, and then working as hard as I can to improve.

And as always, I try (almost) every day to be a better wife and mother.

I hope this post doesn’t sound braggy, because I could give you a huge list of all the areas I am failing in….but I am not going to do that. 

The thing that I have been striving hardest towards is to be tuned into what my Heavenly Father wants me to do and be.  Above all, I want to be His tool here on earth.  It is easy to get distracted by all of the good ways I could be spending my time and attention. It is easy to look at things that other women I admire are doing and think that I should be doing those same things.  It is easy to let my physical weaknesses stop me from making the most of my days. It is easy to get caught up in what the world thinks perfection is, rather than working to be more Christ-like.  I know though, that I am a daughter of God, and He knows me and has work for me to do.  If I stay in touch with Him every single day, the things I will be led to do will matter so much more, and be so  much more successful, than the things I would do on my own. 

I can give up a lot of good things if it means obtaining all He has in store for me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hourglass

Every night I bring my laptop into the boys’ room, turn out the lights, and let them take turns choosing a song to listen to on YouTube before it is time to sleep.  Lately Colin has been fond of Hourglass by Mindy Gledhill, which I also love.  As a mom of three boys, it is not hard to lay there in the dark with my chubby cheeked boys and get a little nostalgic about the time that is slipping past.  One night after the song ended, Gabe told me that the song made him kind of sad.  I thought maybe growing up was feeling a little bittersweet for him.

Then on Sunday, he made a card for Carina that shed a little more light on the situation.
IMGP6640
I hope you do not grow up way to fast.  because then you wont be cute any more.


A line taken directly from the song.  I guess parents aren’t the only ones who feel that way about their little babies. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Carina’s birthday dinner

We had a birthday dinner for Carina on Sunday.  With Levi and Audra recently moved and Sabina and Liam in Argentina, it was a smaller gathering that we are used to, but I know Carina felt the love.  She basically did whatever she wanted to do, and it was hard to even get her to sit still long enough to open her gifts.  At one point she even just stood up and walked into the computer room while all the boys kept opening her gifts.  I did some butterfly decorations in sunset colors – pink, red, orange and yellow.  We had wraps for dinner and red velvet cake for dessert.  It was simple and pretty short so that the birthday girl could get to bed.
I can’t tell you how much that little girl was oohed and ahhed over all day.  She definitely had a day in the sun, and Chad especially could not stop talking about what a cutie she is.  She is lucky to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who all adore her. 
She got her own little cake and it was the most entertaining part of the evening.  Watch her eat it in the video below and how she insists on having her new doll with her the whole time. 

Here are some pictures from the day.
IMGP6797IMGP6801IMGP6802IMGP6809IMGP6834IMGP6827IMGP6828

longshot
IMGP6841IMGP6873IMGP6911IMGP6916
Two things my mom did that really meant a lot to me:
She showed up with sandals that she found for Carina at Goodwill that not only matched the outfit I already had on her perfectly, they were the perfect size, and had butterflies on them. 
She took the time to decorate Carina’s bags, very cutely, to match the whole theme.
IMGP6957IMGP6814
I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about my mom since having Carina – the kind of mother she has been to me and how much I want to be that mother to my daughter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carina’s Birthday Photos

I did a little photo shoot with Carina this morning.  The conditions were not ideal, but I really wanted to do it the day of her birthday, so we just went for it.   Chad bought the tiara for her yesterday and put it on her for church today.  I am not kidding.  He got a such a kick out of strolling in with her in her big dress and tiara. 

And yes, I know that these photos are over-the-top girly, with the wings and puffy pink dress, but that’s what happens when someone who idolizes Anne of Green Gables has three boys before a girl.  I had to go all the way.  Maybe in thirty years I will think they are totally dated (what were we thinking?!), but she looked stinkin’ cute today.

IMGP6685IMGP6656IMGP6701IMGP6713IMGP6719IMGP6746IMGP6727IMGP6745IMGP6760IMGP6763IMGP6769

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Family Update: Colin

IMGP6603

Colin will be nine soon (gulp).  We are finishing up his requirements to earn his Wolf.  In this picture he is very happy because he just cooked a meal outdoors – hotdogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans (from scratch – very yummy).  We made campfire cones for dessert – thank you Pinterest.  As I write this, I am reminded of this meal that he also chose.  We haven’t been eating meat in our house since last summer, so he was pretty excited that I let him chose what he wanted.  He did such a great job cooking and showed a lot of patience.

That same day, Colin brought home a completed art project, depicting his likes:

IMGP6610

Xbox, Rocky Road ice cream, goalkeeping, and the TV show Good Luck Charlie (have you seen it?  it actually makes me laugh). 

Some of my favorite times with Colin are driving  the 20 minutes to and from mutual/cub scouts every Wednesday.  When it is just the two of us, he talks my ear off, mostly about whatever he is learning in school.  He loves to talk about math problems.  I love the fact that he has not  just memorized a certain set of rules, but has incredibly unique ways of coming up with the correct answers on his own.  His mind is much quicker than mine every single time. When we have other passengers, I like to see how he interacts with them.  I have been known to eavesdrop on him while he gossips with his cousins.  Every once in awhile I will accidently let a chuckle out and they will burst out with a “WHAT?!”

He still sometimes holds my hand in public, but he also rolls his eyes at me when I nag him, like a moody teenager.  Just picturing that eye-rolls makes me shudder. 

Colin seems to be the happiest when he embraces his oldest child status – when he goes upstairs to get Carina in the morning when he hears her wake up, when he makes Oliver an airplane when I am too busy to, when he teaches a FHE lesson, when he looks around tries to find a way to help. 

Colin seems to be the unhappiest when he is no mood to be responsible – when he feels like just doing what he wants to do and I have to remind him to do what he should, when he doesn’t feel like making sacrifices or showing discipline.

I can relate, I must admit.

We love that kid, yes we do.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Family Update: Gabriel

IMGP5780

About a month and a half into the school year, way back in October, we went to a parent teacher conference with Gabe’s teacher.  She talked about how smart and well behaved he is, and then made it clear that she wanted more out of him.  She wanted him to raise his hand to volunteer answers instead of waiting to be called on.  She wanted him speak out more and be more confident about using Chinese even when he wasn’t quite sure if he was right or not.

I completely understood her concerns, because I know Gabe and I could picture him being exactly like that in class, but it didn’t worry me one bit.

By the second report card, his teacher let us know that Gabe was now a leader in class – setting an example in all areas, showing confidence in his learning and kindness to all his classmates. 

I knew that once Gabe became comfortable, the teacher would see exactly what she wanted from him.  Gabe always needs to warm up.

Gabriel is a learner, a thinker, and a dreamer.  When I picture him, it is not running or jumping, it is sitting with a pencil and paper, or talking and talking about something from his imagination. 

Gabe has become fully ensconced in the world of kindergarten drama.  He told me last week that he was no longer friends with a boy in his class.  When I asked him why, he told me a long and complicated story involving  the girl he has a crush on and his (former) friend breaking a rule to end up by this young lady during rest time.  He made it very clear that it wasn’t the girl part that upset him, it was the rule-breaking part.  Knowing Gabe’s affection for the girl (mighty)and his affection for rules (just as mighty), I am sure it was about half and half.  By the time he was done telling me, I could tell that just telling someone about the unpunished broken rule had relieved Gabe, and he admitted he was no longer angry with his friend.

For the first time this year, Gabe has male teachers in primary.  He loves church now.  He never forgets to bring the church bag they gave him at the beginning of the year, and never forgets what they teach him before he gets home (when I ask “what did you learn today?” he actually answers).  I am sure the full-size candy bar he got today didn’t hurt things.

Gabe has a piggy bank full of money and no desire to spend it on himself. 

Gabe found out the truth about Santa and the tooth fairy recently (because his 2 1/2 years older brother found out and immediately told) and didn’t mind one bit.  As he put it, “Mom, I already knew, because there is no such thing as magic.”

He can be seen several times a day tilting his head to the side and giving Carina his crinkly-eyed smile.

Gabe loves to laugh and loves a good play-on-words.

He doesn’t seek affection often, but every once in awhile will quietly sit beside me on the couch and gently lean into me.  For a few minutes I will put my arms around him and then he will just as quietly stand up and move on.

Gabe is the quiet brother, the second, and I have remind myself all the time to make sure that even when he doesn’t demand attention, he still gets it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Family Update: Oliver

IMGP5946

Oliver is still my jealous boyfriend, two years later and (maybe) ten pounds heavier.  When he wakes up in the morning, he stands at the top of the stairs and calls for me to come and get him.  Then he will say, “cuddle me” and I will do just that, as I quickly turn on Max and Ruby to officially begin the day.  He still sticks his hand down my shirt when he is sleepy or sad and still wishes he could sleep breathing into my neck.

This same little boy searches twice a week for the perfect show-and-tell for preschool and barely waves goodbye when we part.  He is the child who steers his scooter with perfect concentration up and down the street with his brothers, expertly using his crocs for breaks.  He is the kid who can belt out all the words to the latest song they are learning in church.  He is the polite young gentleman who always remembers to ask, “Mom, can I please have a drink of water.”

Oliver is at the crossroads of baby and big boy, and he has decided to just camp out there for awhile.

Sometimes when I get frustrated by a tantrum he is about to throw over having something just so, I hear a little voice whisper to me,

Look at things from his point of view.

And when I do, this is what I see:

Spending a couple of hours in the car every day just to go to the places that everyone else needs to go.

Mommy spending hours every day patiently cuddled up to Carina – feeding her and putting her to sleep.

Brothers who can run faster, understand rules better, speak Chinese and go to school every day.  Brothers who aren’t always patient.

Being dragged to the gym, practices, and the grocery store with no say in it.

And I compare Oliver’s life to the simple and kid-centered world that Colin got to live in at his age, and it helps me show him a little more patience.  It helps me to figure out just what he is a fighting against and what would make both of us happy.

Because despite the stress of a three year old life, he is a generally happy kid.  He still steals hearts with his big brown eyes. Almost daily he requests that I make his hair spikey and for the rest of the day I see him out of the corner of my eye, gently patting the top to see if the spikes have held up.  He makes words up and weaves them into his vocabulary regularly enough for the whole family to use them – “Sheckle,”  “Surf-Jack,” “Eagle Miter,” and “Jewfus” are Coleman family slang thanks to our littlest boy.

His only desire is to spend time with the people he loves –reading books with his pointing elbows pushed into my sides, racing cars with his brothers, lounging on Dad and playing Angry Birds, making games up with his cousin Liam, who has become his go-to friend few times a week.  With Oliver, close is never close enough. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Carina at 11 months, and my ramblings

Carina just had her "9 month"  appointment the other day.  She turned 9 months on Christmas, and I didn't know what our family plans for Christmas break would be like beforehand, so I didn't schedule an appointment then, and by the time I got around to calling (mid January), this was the earliest appointment available.  My pediatrician is popular, with good reason - I love him.  I also love the fact that he has FIVE kids (which almost unheard on around here) and understands parenting kids quite well.

As a side note, twice in the last week I have been out with my kids and have been asked, "Are they ALL yours?"  The first time, it was a middle-aged, rather jolly man, and he then he asked me if I was going crazy yet.  Since we were at Dollar Tree, the answer was "almost" and it was true.  The second time it was by a middle-aged yuppie who was walking into the school at the same time as me.  When I answered that they were indeed all mine, she gasped and said, "And so close together in age."  She was with her two children (boy and girl of course), which is the standard at Waddell, and I wanted to remark that they were all 2 1/2 to almost 3 years apart like her two, so no, not that close together really, but I just smiled.

As a further side note, Chad and I were talking the other day about the fact that people are often surprised that we are young, with so many children.  I told him that I sometimes feel a little judged about it - like people think I am irresponsible, rather than it being a very deliberate choice based on my values.  Then I remarked that as my kids get older, it gets a little easier, because all the teachers and parents have gotten to know my kids(and their cousins) and they respect them.  It makes me feel like they "get it" a little better - that Chad and I are not just pumping out kids, but are very dedicated to our family and feel like we know what is right for us.  Do I sound smug?  Maybe I am.

And my last remark about all of this is - I never really expected to get comments like that with four kids (half the amount my mom had.)

So, back to the Dr.  One of the main things we are noticing about Carina is that as she gets older she is getting much more feisty.  She knows what she likes and doesn't like and she makes it clear. Along with her her coy smiles at strangers when she is happy, she growls, she grunts, and she pushes people away when she is not.  She did not like being examined by the Dr. and tried to push his stethoscope away.  We think that her feisty personality is perfect for living with three older brothers.  Carina is so sweet with them most of the time - laughing easily at their antics, giving the hugs in the morning - but she lets them know when she has had enough.

Here are her measurements:
Length: 28 inches 25%
Weight: 18 lbs, 14 oz 50%
Head: 47 cms 50-75%

The Dr. said to take the measurements with a grain of salt (which I think means that he doesn't necessarily think that the nurse measuring a wiggling baby by marking her head and foot on the butcher paper is super accurate) and that he doubts her percentile there dropped so quickly.   I am not worried either way, and I tend to think she is still on the tall side, simply because everyone always remarks that she looks way older than she is.

The biggest Carina news is that she took her first steps on February 13.  I remember the date very well because the previous day at church she was playing with a baby from another ward.  Talking to the mom, we realized they were the same age, and we both said that although they were both standing, they had no interest in walking.  Then the very next day, I just show this look in Carina's eye while she was standing, like she thought she might try taking a step.  When Chad come home from work, she standing up and I told him about the look, and then all of the sudden, there she went - three or four steps.  It was a sweet moment - everyone in the family was there to see it.

Here is a video from Sunday of her walking.  I love how she is just cool and calm with her brothers running all around her, and I love how she turns.  She has gotten even steadier in the last week.