Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tom Turkey 2015

It's a rule and a tradition. Tom Turkey makes his debut early in November to help us remember all our blessings. Since Oliver was a wee thing, we've done it, and it's a joy for everyone. We are incapable as you all know of looking normal in pictures. SIGH.


For growth purposes, I give you 2014:






Henry: a decade

Our baby boy is ten. I am not sure how this happens, other than that time flies when you're having fun. Henry is now a double-digit-midget.

It is a pleasure being Henry's mom. He is a good, kind person. He wants to do what's right, and is harder on himself than anyone else is. I get on his case about stuff, but it's all minor in comparison to the GOOD that he is.

Derek surprised him at school with yummy sandwiches and treats. Henry LOVED it. It was fun thing for those boys of mine. Then Texas Roadhouse which is always a fun chaotic adventure. And finally, the whole cake/ice cream/presents thing. He was gifted a camera from his grandparents, which was much wanted and appreciated and some other fun things. Then tonight, a movie with Dad, Spencer and Oliver, then his favorite activity, using his birthday gift card from his OTHER grandparents. (Many pokemon cards are in my future. SIGH.)

We're grateful to be Henry's family, thankful he was willing to come and be first, and blaze this trail of unknown for his siblings. He complains a lot about his brothers, but I know in the end, he has their backs. Happy Birthday Henry! We love you!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween lasted a full three days here. We are all very very tired, and over-sugared. It was a great time really, but tiring.

We started our celebrations with story time for the littles with church trunk or treat. It was a carnival first and then the candy. Too much fun was had. Oh my goodness it was so fun for our little people to party with their friends.

You may note that we had TWO Harry Potters. Spencer was supposed to instead be a gold power ranger (which is also what Ezra was), but the night before the party, he confessed that he REALLY wanted to be Harry Potter (this of course infuriated Henry, but whatevs), so we through a costume together. It worked.

Friday was school parties and a parade. The kids had fun, and as a third grade room mom, I just hoped it wasn't a disaster.

Finally Saturday was the big day! Our town does a fantastic job making Halloween amazing. We all donate candy to the town, and then it is distributed to the houses in the Historic district. The whole town trick or treats there. The homes are decorated to the teeth. It's just such fun. 

I'm learning the ways of my new camera. It's a lot of buttons and knobs and new-fangledness. 

Halloween, Over and OUT. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spencer's Baptism Weekend

We had a beautiful weekend. Thursday night my parents showed up, Friday my sister Erin and her little guy Levi came, and then we went adventuring. We drove to Vermont where the Ben and Jerry's factory resides.

Bonus points: We ate ice cream for dinner in 40 degrees. Outside.

Saturday was the baptism. We're glad Spencer decided to get baptized. It was a good morning!

Saturday afternoon we went to Manchester in search of Nana, my mom's mom, who had somehow ended up in New Hampshire with her sister, brother-in-law and her friend, from Texas. They had come up from Virginia to leaf-peep and antique. Nana didn't realize how ridiculously close we are, so it was delightful to find her at an antique store.

Extra bonus points: no child of mine broke  anything at the very crowded antique store. Be proud.

We had our primary program today, and it was awesome to have my kids' grandparents here to see.

Bonus points: I'm the primary music leader. I didn't cry until the very last song. Go me.

Then we "bent" the Sabbath to have lunch with our favorite leaf-peepers/antiquers before dropping my folks off at the airport. It was so fun.

1,000 extra bonus points: We visited the neatest little aviation museum by the airport. It had flight simulators and and actual cockpit. Very much a highlight.

The weekend was so fun, so busy, and really beautiful. I'm glad we got to be together and celebrate Spencer's baptism, and time together. Loved it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Why We Limit Screen Time

Well. It seems the trend these days is to not limit screen time for children. "Let them learn to moderate themselves," is the newest parenting battle cry.

Sure. Yeah. Ok.

Look, I get the idea behind not limiting screens as equaling that they learn to limit themselves. I see the really good intentions behind this plan.

But it's absolute bull crap. Utter and complete horse hockey.

Let's be real here. I use my phone a lot. Some for funsies, some for worksies. A lot. I have to, as a 32 year old ADULT, make a conscious effort to not peak at my notifications every five minutes.

It's just too easy.

Also, as a human who has reached full cognitive development, I'm expected to be capable of lots of self-control. Because...adult.

My children on the other hand?

Well. They moderate nothing.

Nothing. They'll happily eat junk non-stop. They'll wear a shirt for days if I don't intervene. They'll screen time until their eyeballs fall out and roll across the floor.

As parents we have a sacred responsibly to prepare these folks for life beyond elementary school.

To prepare them we're teaching them moderation through SETTING LIMITS.

No. You can not have candy. Here is a carrot stick.

No. You may not punch your brother when you are angry. Use words.

No. You may not sneak your tablet and play Minecraft in bed until 10pm. You are now grounded from your tablet for a week.

Allowing children free reign of ANYTHING teaches them not to moderate, but to over-indulge.

Instead, I'm teaching them to set proper limits by setting those limits for them until they gain proper cognitive ability to choose moderation themselves.

Left to their own devices (ha I'm so punny) they don't quit. They just stay glued. For.hours.

So heck yes I'll limit their screen to time, candy intake and general tendency to be gluttonous and slothful. It's my job to teach them what it feels like to constrain one's self. It's my job to help them recognize when enough is enough.

This way when they are 32, they can moderate themselves. Because their parents taught them HOW rather than just expecting that through some sort of miraculous conversion, they'll figure it out on their own.

I know limiting screens can be a battle. It's easier just to let them. Oh yes. I get it. By standing firm, we are showing our children how to use technology responsibly. Through our own example of putting the devices aside they learn to do as we DO as much as what we say.

We need more interaction, more playing outside and more moderation.

And less Mine Craft. Much less of that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

And now for something completely different

Sometimes you get THREE days into a new school year when you suddenly realize that you've made a terrible mistake.

Then you send out panicked texts to your husband, shoot off some emails, and three days later, you drop your three oldest kids of at your local elementary school.


I had been trying SO hard to make home schooling work. I completely changed our curriculum, made it all new and interesting.

I'd had niggling doubts for months. I just dismissed those doubts and pushed forward. I pushed. Much pushing.

But, Heavenly Father is wise. He knows I need very clear signs in order to not be stubborn.

So, He sent it, the sign I needed.

In the form of a soul-crushing revelation: I.can.not.do.this.

The baby was screaming, the school aged ones were arguing, the littles were begging for attention. Chaos. And I'm only one tiny person.

I know when I'm beat. And home schooling three at once with three others had me beat.

I quit. Right then. I was done. I kindly, gently let the kids know. Spencer cried. A lot. Henry was pretty sad, and Oliver, in true Oliver form, was thrilled.

Today was their first day. They came home happy. I guess that's a good start!

I'm not eternally linked to public school or home school. I always said I'd do what was best, even if that meant school. For now, that means school.

I thought I'd be heartbroken. I'm definitely sad. I love home school. But mostly, I'm relieved. It's going to be fine.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

For the Love of a Dog

There is a great debate among my siblings and parents: to pet or not to pet.

Well. We here on Hagey hill obviously lean on the "keeping pets" side of things.

The general feeling of the anti-pet crowd is that pets are merely cute balls of future heartbreak.

Oh. Oh yes.

See, six years ago when we saw that silly, funny looking, overweight guy at the Pet Smart adoption day, I agreed to bring him home. 

Jonah's story tugged at my heart. Two years he'd been waiting for a rescue, at nearly five years old, no one had ever even expressed interest in him.

I brought him home, but vowed to never love him.

Fond of him. Sure. I could do that.

But somewhere along the way, we got to know each other, and he was just the happiest guy. He literally smiled! It looked a bit scary, but he would grin. He was smart, and fat and an absolute pansy about the cold.

About a year ago we found a lump on his face. Cancer.

Being ten years old, the surgery costly, and far from a cure, the vet didn't suggest treating it.

Blessedly, until yesterday, he never really acted sick. He slowed, and struggled sometimes, but over all,  Jonah kept smiling

Jonah died today.

We all cried for our friend. I told the kids through our tears, "It's good to be sad. It means we loved him."

It turns out, we loved him quite a lot. Somewhere, along the way, like an arranged marriage, we learned to love him.

Yes, pets are heartbreak in a fuzzy package.

And I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Ode to Summer

The light is changing.

I don't mean that the days are growing shorter, but of course that's true too.


I mean that as the world starts to tilt and let the southern hemispheres have their days in the sun, our world here is changing. The hazy, glittering light of spring gave way first to robust gold of summer. And now? Creamy ambers filter through the tree leaves that are losing the fight.

Summer is over. Despite what the calendar claims, our summer, our golden summer has come to an end.

I am sad, I'm practically in mourning.

Sweetest summer, you were impossibly short.

I am proud though that we LOVED summer with the love that only those who have long winters can love summer.

We played. Every chance we got, we chose to ignore our responsiblities and play.

And play.

And play.

The lake knew us by names.

The ocean became our friend.

The trees welcomed us.

Winter is still a ways off, blessedly. Autumn is full of its own magic, for which I am grateful. There is beauty and joy to look forward to. Apples to pick, a visit from my parents, a baptism for my sweet boy, my favorite Holidays approach, more birthdays (Henry is approaching TEN!!).

Yes, I can appreciate the fall with all the happiness of my heart, whilst forcing thoughts of ice and cold out as much as possible. I try anyway.

But my dear friend, summer, the whole of you should be written SUMMER because to us, you were EVERYTHING.

We hit the lake one last time today. I know we won't make it back. Rain was forecasted, and it was only abot 75 degrees. That mattered not at all.

 photo 20150910_120304.jpg We went.

 photo 20150910_120701.jpg We played.

We rejoiced.

And now, we kiss summer goodbye. Oh my how we will miss you SUMMER.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

San Antonio 2015

Well, we did Texas this last week. It was an AMAZING time. We hadn't been to San Antonio in several years, so we were all beside ourselves with excitement.

Traveling with six kids...

Well, we are finally *knock on wood* not horfing every time we leave the house.

That's a good thing.

Let's all do a celebratory "hallelejuah!"

Go ahead. I'll wait.


Texas was hot.

I will spare you the foul language used to describe the heat of Texas in early September, but just know that sweating is a lifestyle in Texas.


We played with Grandpa and Grammy and Cory (Derek's brother) all week. Todd, Derek's other brother made limited appearances as well.
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Uncle Cory took no time stealing Miriam's heart. She had him wrapped around her finger within five minutes. 
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One of my kids captured this picture of my inlaws doing church work. Because they are good, righteous, loving, giving people. They are such good examples to me. 

 We hit awesome places like the Fort Sam Houston Quardrangle. Tame deer, hilariously hungry poultry, hot hot hot, and a super cool museum for the win!
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Ten pound bag of feed: GONE.
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These girls were so sweet!
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Sea World was hot. But not terribly busy. AND, because it was like 50th birthday or something, their "surprise squad" awarded us at random with the ENTIRE day for our ENTIRE group of 11, all we could eat and drink arm bands at any of their park restuarants. This MADE the day. Instead of baking nonstop in the heat, we were able to frequently sit down and cool off, eat, drink, and be air conditioned. It was the best.

Oh, the rides were fun too. But we really didn't make it on many between walking everywhere, shows, and well... you know... food. photo 20150907_164254.jpg
The whackos all in one place. Except my father in law, who was the photag. We are a rag tag bunch, no question.

The shows were awesome, so fun and educational.
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We really learned a lot!

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This baby... he is my heart. 
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On our last day we visited Landa Park in New Braunfels which was gorgeous, and the water cold and welcome.

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It was so great to be with family, to visit, to reconnect, and play.

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Now we're home, and well. Traveling with six kids...

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Hey Fred, that's ONE way to eat peanuts. 

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Oh my funny, cute Oliver!
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Waiting for our van at the airport (driven bravely by my dear friend), we got a little goofy. 

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A LOT goofy.
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I'm not sure I've ever been more tired than I am at this very moment.


The kids were fantastic the entire week, with all the running around we did, the travel, the lack of sleep, really their were dream kids! Frederick wins for "best baby." He was a dream.

We are blessed. It was a visit well-worth making.


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