Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back-to-School

We had our annual back-to-school dinner on Sunday.  Since it was Ollie’s birthday and he was starting kindergarten, I let him choose the Menu.

Dinner:

  • Taco Bowls with:
  • Quinoa and Black Beans
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Tomatoes and Lettuce
  • Blueberry Lemonade

Dessert:

Drumsticks

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This was definitely one of those not-so-fancy years, but Ollie was happy and it is a meal that all the boys love.  I didn’t do anything for decorations this year (as you can see) – just printed off the 2013-14 family theme, stuck it in a frame and gathered a few things for the table.

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I asked Chad to come up with our family theme this year and he chose:

We ye are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.

We had a discussion about the theme, set some goals for the year, and then Chad gave all the boys a father’s blessing. 

The next morning went smoothly and we got out the door and to school with plenty of time to spare.

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For kindergarten, they stagger the start days so each kid only goes once that week and there are only four or so kids each day.  That way the teacher can evaluate where they are, and get them acquainted with all the procedures without too much chaos.

Today was Ollie’s first day and I will have to write more about that in my traditional first-day-of-school  letter to him later.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ollie turns 5!!!

We had our traditional birthday pool party for Oliver last Saturday.  Since Leslie and Lily (my nieces) also had birthdays this month that we had not yet had a chance to celebrate, we did a combined birthday party for the three of them.  We had his best friend/cousin Liam spend the night before and they just played and played until bedtime and got up and played and played some more.

The water was COLD and it was only around 80 or so outside.  The kids braved the water more than the Blythonian parents. 

This post will just pretty much be pictures.  Deal with it. (Don’t tell Colin I used that phrase – it was banned from our house about a week into summer).

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Now tell me all those pictures didn’t make you smile! 

The next day was actually his birthday and, fun fun fun STAKE CONFERENCE (when you get to go to church and sit in hard chairs for two hours with no Primary!). 

Ollie got his big present from us after church, along with his present from his brothers.  Chad put the bike together during quiet time and he rode it all around the downstairs for about an hour, telling me over and over again how much he loved it.

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I love it when they all have a chance to show their love to each other, and Ollie really eats it up.  At one point I saw Gabe give Ollie a hug out of the blue.  Ollie beamed and walked over to me and said, “Mom. Gabe just gave me a HUG! First time ever!” with a big double thumbs up. 

I let him choose what we had for our back to school feast, which I will post about next.

First birthday here and here, Second here and here (that video kills me), Third, Fourth.  I think I am going to cry.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

School Shopping

On Friday we did Ollie’s special back-to-school shopping trip.  Just like with Colin and Gabe before him, we had a celebratory breakfast out and the incoming kindergartner got to choose where we went.  The very excited almost-five-year-old chose McDonald’s and got the McGriddle for the very first time.  I took the egg off because he has never in his life liked eggs, put it on Colin’s Egg McMuffin for double egg goodness, and then Ollie ate about half of his McGriddle and decided he didn’t like it.  Tried some of Colin’s sandwich, wanted to trade, then took two more bites of Colin’s and said he didn’t like it.  So he then filled up the rest of the way on hash browns which are his faaaavorite breakfast food anyway (and vegan! greasy gross vegan, but vegan nevertheless).

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After moans of fullness from all three boys and a ketchup mess from Carina, we headed over to Target to pick out a backpack and lunchbox.  Oliver was in just about the best mood possible and liked about ten backpacks.  As soon as he tried this monster one on, it was over.  It just fit him perfectly.  I got lots and hugs and smiles from my precious boy.

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While he was making this vital decision, Carina managed to sneak the following into the cart: a purple lunchbag, a Minnie Mouse lunchbag, and a Minnie and Daisy notebook.  She was furious when I put them back.

I decided not to do all the supply shopping with the kids this year (because I am lazier? or wiser? hmmmm).  We bought lunchboxes and then went to a couple more stores for shoes.  By the time we were done, we were done, so I am glad we didn’t do the rest.  I will have to jet out some evening before school starts and do it (blissfully) alone.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This week…

Was not the best.

  It started off when our adoption agency posted updated pictures of all the kids on their (secret) Facebook page.  I happened to be on Facebook when the pictures started showing up so I was, of course, glued to it for the duration.  Beautiful face after beautiful face showed up, and I refreshed and clicked and waited.  A couple of hours later and the director announced that they were done and to let her know if anyone was missed.  That would be us. (They will be going back their foster home and getting the pictures but roads are awful there and things are busy so I don’t know when that will be).  I was so sad and a little grumpy.  We are in the waiting and waiting part of the process and our timeline is just stretching out further and further.  Deep down I feel calm and okay, but sometimes I just get so sad.  Thinking about two girls across the world from us that may someday be our daughters and wanting to be with them.  I have really been okay most of the time, but some weeks are hard waiting weeks.

This week…

Carina and Ollie slept kinda poorly, which meant I did too.

This week….

I went back to the gym after almost a month of being absent thanks to being out of town.

This week…..

My mom had a couple of bad days when my Dad needed to work.  She could use cheering up probably each and every day if anyone wants to send little packages or pictures or cards or Facebook messages.

This week….

I did get to hang out with some friends who are fun and lovely for a couple of hours.

This week…

Ended on a good note with a family Sam’s Club trip, swimming and a little last-minute date with Chad.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Little sister

Back in the Disney era of “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,”  I was obsessed with their soundtracks.  I would ask for the cassette recording for Christmas and play it over and over, with nearly everyone in the family memorizing the songs along with me (Under the sea, Under the SEA!).  Each movie was a big deal, right?  You remember?

And Aladdin was the next and brightest star.  Sitting around our twinkling tree on Christmas Eve, with the missionaries joining us, we each opened one present, youngest to eldest.  Right before it was my turn, my sister Ashley opened her gift and there it was – a cassette.  THE cassette.  The Aladdin soundtrack.

I don’t remember what I said, but there were screams, stomping of feet, and a snotty eleven-year old face.  I ran to my room (or was commanded to my room? that is probably likely), hot with anger and embarrassment all at the same time.  And when my gulping sobs subsided, my little sister was next to me, handing me the cassette and telling me I could have it.  I felt so much shame, but even more love.

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Last summer I took Carina with me to California to attend my grandmother’s memorial.  It was a hustle to get there , and I didn’t really allow myself any grieving time before we got there.  I was too busy with decisions and packing.

The day of the memorial was rushed and stressful.  Eight of us Jeppsons were staying in a hotel an hour or so from the memorial and we had various tasks to complete on our way there. We started running behind and never caught up.  As we drove through the LA traffic that never ever stopped (seriously – traffic in the middle of the day?!), it suddenly completely stopped.  Completely. Every car on the freeway, not moving, with dead open space ahead as police motorcycles blocked the flow of traffic.  My mind spun through our options of somehow getting through the impossible mess.

I flew here all the way from North Carolina, and I am going to miss my grandma’s memorial. 

Just as suddenly, the motorcycles moved and so did we.

We made it on time and found seats.  I could finally breathe and feel and reflect.  All the grandchildren filed to the front of the room, and we sang,

I am a Child of God

and tears stung my eyes by the time we finished.

And then directly after that, ten minutes into the memorial, Carina started her infamous shrieks.  I did my best sacrament-meeting-style scoot out of the room with her and stood at the back to listen.  She continued to shriek, so we left the room altogether, standing by the door where I could hear.  More shrieks, until we were far down the hall next to the parked motorized scooters.  Here, Carina said nothing, and I heard nothing.

I didn’t hear a word of my Grandma’s eulogy.

I left the memorial with a heart full of grief never released. And anger. Anger that wrapped me up tight. I sat dully at the luncheon  among my relatives that I hadn’t seen in person for years and couldn’t get any words out without Carina fussing at me…. and I just couldn’t care about anyone or anything right then but that anger.

Then my sister Ashley walked up with Claire, Carina’s quiet cousin twin, and offered to take them both to the playground for a few minutes.

In her own time of grief, she had noticed.

I felt 11 again.

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I visited my sister in her home last week, for the very first time. 

You know how you read those books or blog posts about cleaning and they tell you that everything should have a place?  Everything.  And then you feel like GREAT, yeah, sure.  Someday. Well, I slept in Ashley’s room and opened her pantry and her hall closet.  And that is her home. Organized, efficient, deliberate. All those somedays in my little head, right there, manfiested in my little sister’s house.

And though I swear I am an independent and capable person when I am at home, when I was at Ashley’s I kept finding myself being taken care of.  Plans made for me about where and when to get my oil changed.  Diapers changed before I had a chance to grab my wipes.  Homemade vegan muffins made before I even arrived. Midnight in Austenland sitting on the nightstand next to my (Ashley’s) bed.

All making me feel like I was the little sister,

but only in a good way.

It’s a gift.