Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Acclimating Back to Reality

After finding Carson bored out of his mind every weekday morning while Eli was at school, I decided to ask around our neighborhood to see if anyone would be interested in doing a joy school. We scrounged together 5 other families and got ourselves a good little group! Carson had his first day the day after we got back from our trip. 
On Mondays, the group consists of five boys. My favorite joke is that I tried to start a joy school and ended up with a boy school. We'll take it! It's all we know around here anyway!
We do have a girl in our group who comes one of the days each week. She keeps all the boys in line! We did a cute Rainbow Fish activity when they were at my house where I had them glue "scales" made out of tissue paper on their fish and gave them one sparkly one. One of these students appreciated the sparkly scale significantly more than the rest. 
We've busied ourselves with playdates to help ease the agony of being back in the monotony of everyday life post Disney. I don't often snap pictures of my boys with their friends, so they looked suspiciously at me when I came down to snap this picture. As I walked back into the house I heard them whisper with some relief, "I think she just wanted to take a picture." They must be used to me only interrupting their playing when they're getting into trouble. 
This little cutie has grown leaps and bounds in the last month. He was such a good boy to stay immobile for me through our trip, and now that we're home, he's started sitting up, rolling around on the floor, and eating real foods! He's like...a real little person!
He also sucks his thumbs. People are always surprised to see him suck his thumb, but he's been doing it since he was about a month old! He is mostly anti-binky because he has a perma-binky on the end of his arm. He sucks it whenever he's tired or the minute he feels threatened by certain brothers who at times get a little too intrusive.
He has also started sitting completely upright in the stroller when we go on walks. His stroller posture requires an impressive amount of balance and head control for a little baby whose sitting muscles are still somewhat unreliable. He does hit his head on the side bars every once in a while, and I have found him quietly flopped in half from exhaustion on a couple occasions, but overall his mobility improvements this month have left me in awe. 
Sometimes he even gets enough range to bend forward and swipe the back of his brother's hair which is usually well received...for now anyway. 
Then we had conference weekend! All the boys piled on a couch together for the Saturday morning session.
It took every coloring book, marker, and sticker in the house to keep two little boys quiet.
And when that stopped keeping them quiet, it was time for the Lego dump.
And by the end of the Saturday afternoon session, we resorted to candy face decorating.
By the end of the Sunday afternoon session at my parents' house, Ben resorted to car face decorating of innocent, unsuspecting babies.
One day I saw something unlikely hanging from our wall.
Upon closer inspection, this dangling sippy cup was clearly the work of Carson. He is the king of matching unlikely objects. I'm convinced he views the world around him as a 3-D jigsaw puzzle.
And Eli views the world around him as a Lego city. I don't know why his metropolis has to be established in my room, but alas, life with children.
One day over the summer, we were on a walk in the triple stroller and Eli had brought a marker along. I could see him start to get the idea to write all over his body with the marker in his boredom, so I tried to convince him otherwise by saying, "Eli, did you know your body is a temple? You wouldn't write all over the temple, so you shouldn't write all over your body either."

He whipped his head around towards me, furrowed his brow and stared at me with a hint of condescension. "MOM! My body is NOT a temple."

Surprised by his reaction, I pressed him a little bit, "Heavenly Father made your body. It's special just like a temple." Carson even jumped in, bearing a genuine 3-year-old testimony that our bodies are like temples.

Eli continued to struggle with the concept, "Mom. Listen. I know what a temple is. And I know what a body is. And a body is NOT a TEMPLE! A temple is a temple. And a body is a body. OKAY?!?"

Throughout the next 20 minutes of our walk, we listened to Eli rant about how he was right and we were wrong as he failed to accept the analogy of a body to a temple. The thing with Eli is he's 100% logical. If he can't immediately see how something works, he figures it out until his surroundings are completely understood and logical to him. He's always been this way. I've said before, but he never played pretend as a young kid because I think he was too logical to give into make believe. So telling him that a BODY was a TEMPLE was just not a concept his brain could accept.

I could see him WANT to believe what we were saying, but his logic WOULD NOT GIVE IN. He is our spiritual giant and soaks up everything gospel related he learns. This seemed to be the first gospel related lesson he refused to believe, and I could see his battle and desire to understand this thing that his logical brain wasn't willing to grasp.

Hours later, at the end of the day, he walked over to me with his head down and quietly said, "I know my body is a temple. Well. It's like a temple." It was so sweet because I could tell he still didn't totally believe it, but he soooooo so so so so wanted to believe it. I love that about Eli. He has such a desire to know the good of the gospel and to be a good boy. Even when it doesn't really make sense to him.

Anyway, that back story will make you appreciate this story from this week. So this is a good 6 months post "your body is a temple" emotional breakdown. Lincoln was crying as I was getting ready for the day. Eli rushed over to sing him a makeshift song and these were the words he said in a somewhat singsongy voice:

"Jesus loves you. He will make you happy. With liberty and justice for all. And your body is a temple... ... ... ... kind of."

Hahahahah. He's still not convinced.
And I'll end with a few other kid quotes as of late:

One night Eli didn't help clean up so we told him he didn't earn his chocolate chips. He went into a full rage. Ran up to his room. Jeff went up to talk to him. While Jeff was talking to him, Eli said, "You broke everything that I love." and "You cracked my heart." and "You bring me unhappiness." About five minutes after Jeff left, Eli walked out of his room, stared at Jeff from across the hall, went back into his room and slammed the door. Just for anger effect.

Jeff then said he was grateful we had all boys because that's about as much drama as we could handle.

Eli and Carson were taking pictures on Jeff's phone. One of the pictures turned out blurry and Carson said, "That picture is soggy!"

Me: "Eli, if you want to go to Grandma's house, you have to wear shoes."
Eli: "Why?"
Me: "Because what if our car breaks down and we have to walk somewhere?"
Eli: Looked at me about to surrender until I saw a light bulb click, "I know! I'll say a prayer that our car won't break down!" *immediately kneeled down and said prayer*

Eli: "I had a dream that it was my birthday and Captain America showed up and gave me a birthday cake and two presents."
Jeff: "What were the presents?"
Eli: "How should I know? They were wrapped up!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

End With A Splash

Our last day at Belle's Castle was a Saturday and it was time to kick back, relax and enjoy the California sun. 

Brooke had arranged for us to have thirteen pool parties throughout the day. She took it upon herself to host the extravaganza as she dutifully prepared the pool area for the crowd. At 9:30 AM she was offended no one had arrived at her party yet, so to her requests, we started trickling into the water.
Not as eager as Brooke to jump in the pool at 8:00 in the morning, I tried to kill some time on the poolside before diving in. 
As soon as the sun had mostly risen over the pool, we accepted our fate and kicked off pool party number 1 with a splash.
And another splash. Folks. In the excitement of the moment, I severely overestimated the depth of the pool and slammed my middle toe straight into the bottom of the pool. It hurt. So. Bad.
The humorous part is, my family has...well there's no other way to put it...a curse. It's the curse of the fungi toenail. The universe will not allow our family to walk the earth without having one of us toenail-ly impaired. My dad took the bullet for us all through our childhood as his big toe was constantly and unexplainably the unnatural color of a milky glow-in-the-dark star. Then Ben cracked his big toenail and it's permanently grown in cracked from that point forward. I lost my big toenail in college when I was training for a half-marathon. Jacob got his big toenail(s?) removed due to fungal issues. And my sister dropped a bar of soap on her toenail several years ago which caused it to bubble up like a snail shell to the point where she finally got it removed just days before this trip. So with the removal of the most recent Thomas Family Fungi Toenail, that left us all susceptible to the curse. And it jumped to me the moment I jumped into that water.
This was from pool party -1. The party on our first day at the castle. But I forgot to post it earlier. So here.
Madison LOVED the pool. Look at those eyes begging me to let her through the gate so she could join the fun!
This guy was quite fond of the water as well!

Our day consisted of trying to convince Brooke we were done with one party and onto the next to ensure she would be satisfied at the end of the day that each of her envisioned thirteen parties transpired.
In fact, halfway through the day we got out of the pool and I showered thinking we had met our pool party quota. Only to later find myself back in the pool in the early afternoon. Eli turned into a little fish at Belle's Castle and could not be kept out of the water once he discovered he was brave enough to dunk his head underwater and jump in off the side.
Eli was so "brave" that he took no issue jumping into water that was waaaaaaaaay too deep for him to touch the bottom. I took issue with the fact that his bravery trumped his skill because he DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM! Several times I found Eli standing with water up to his eyeballs, frantically bobbing up and down. Someone would save him as he would laugh the moment his mouth emerged. The near drownings never scared him away from the deep end so he was a handful to keep an eye on!

My mom refused to get into the pool due to the fact that she intentionally forgot to bring her swimsuit. Baby duty it is! 
After Brooke was satisfied with her parties, we came back in the house for lightsaber wars with Spencer as the referee and Caroline in denial that our swimming was over for the day.
We finished the day off with popsicles at the backyard playground.

Then the next morning it was time to leave! Sniff sniff.
Last minute baby snuggles were critical.

iPad entertainment to keep the kids busy while we tried to clean and pack was also critical.
We packed up the cars and booked it home.
Eli cried the minute we left because he already missed it. Any time we look at pictures from our trip he says, "I miss that place." We had such a fun time! Everything was perfect. Our kids were perfect ages for Disney. They were so well behaved. It just went perfectly even better than expected. 
And the end of this family reunion was especially bitter because my parents revealed to us...
That they have been called as mission presidents! They don't know where they are serving yet, but they do know it will be a Spanish speaking mission. They leave this summer!
As soon as they told us, visions of me potentially having a baby with my mom gone, and not having my mom's house to escape to on crazy days, and not eating ebelskivers over general conference weekend flashed through my head.
But the ways the Lord has prepared them for this call also immediately flashed through my head. Like my dad's recent push to become a better member missionary. Their recent call being mission prep teachers. My mom's calling in Young Women's learning the new teaching style. My dad's inherent love and support of missionaries. My mom's incredible hostessing skills. My dad's job leading a big organization. My mom's sudden health improvements. So many things! So as hard as it will be for me to share them, I'm grateful for the confirmation that quickly came to me that this is what they are supposed to be doing. I can't wait to see them excel with this assignment and hear all about all the awesome things they will get to be a part of.

And now here are some pictures I stole from my mom's or sister's blog from previous parts of our trip:

I haven't hit my full depression about this trip being over yet because I've been reliving it through the blog. Now that it's officially over here too, I may need a bag of chocolate chips, a dark corner, and some waterproof mascara.