Friday, April 22, 2016

Mom: Master Manipulator

I hate to say this, but honestly, I feel like I spend half of my time manipulating Kevin. 

Not in a bad way! I don't ever use my powers of manipulation for evil.

For example, yesterday, Kevin didn't want to go to the potty, but I knew he really needed to go. (Sometimes he still struggles when he needs to poop, but doesn't want to. He doesn't have bad accidents, but lately, he's been urinating in his underwear, just a bit.) So, Mom, the Master Manipulator came to save the day.

I picked up his current favorite toys, and they began to have a conversation that went like this:

Ankylosaurus: I don't think Kevin CAN use the bathroom. 
T-Rex: Yes, he can, Ankylosaurus. He's a big boy! 
Ankylosaurus: No, I don't think he can. 
Kevin: I don't want to. 
Ankylosaurus: That's because you're a baby. Babies don't want to go to the bathroom. 
T-Rex: Kevin's not a baby! He's a big boy. Show him that you can go to the potty, Kevin!

The conversation ended with Kevin getting a determined look on his face and running to the bathroom. Afterward, Ankylosaurus apologized for not thinking he could do it, and both dinosaurs gave Kevin a high-five for going to the potty. Kevin also told me proudly that he did it, and I gave him a high-five too!

Sometimes I feel kind of bad about doing that sort of thing. However, it ends up with everyone happy, so I think it's a good thing. Mostly, I'm trying to help him make his own good choices without forcing him to do it.

He looked so proud of himself afterward too.

We've used different forms of manipulation over his life time. Sometimes we use reverse psychology, sometimes we appeal to his competitive side, and sometimes I use his pride. Occasionally, we just force the issue. I just don't like to do that, unless it's really important and I want him to listen to me.

Kevin, in general, is a fantastic kid though. He's usually very helpful and willing to do what I ask. Yesterday, he really wanted to help me sweep and mop the floor, so he held the dustpan for me and mopped the floor after I had finished mopping. Aside from him putting the bleach-soaked mop on the carpet, he did a great job!

What are you thoughts about being manipulators of children? Is it something I should do less often? Is it a good thing sometimes? I really am curious. Please share.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


The last few days, I've been kind of in a weird funk. I was having a hard time figuring out what was going on with me.
I love this face!

Finally, yesterday, it hit me...

I feel like I have nothing to really look forward to or stress about.

That might sound like kind of a weird thing, but for a while, we've had a lot going on.

For the last year and a half, it's been a series of big things. Starting in the fall of 2014, we began to try and purchase a house. For months, my every thought and prayer revolved around looking for and buying the right home. Then, after we purchased or home in February of 2015, we had to do a bunch of repairs and had Grig's sister come and live with us.

A few month later, we found out that Grig was going to lose his job, and so we were praying and searching for a new job.

A couple months after that, Grig's two brothers came to live with us too. Only a month after that, Grig's sister's health took a turn for the worse and she ended up having to fly back to Virginia.

The job search didn't end until November 2015, when the same week that Grig lost his job, he found a new one. Then, there was Christmas, and then a new puppy.

The puppy dilemma felt like it lasted forever, with us hovering on the brink of never knowing if we were going to get our little girl or not. Then, finally in February of 2016, Grig was told (officially) that he was hired full-time and we felt prompted to get our puppy.

And we're so glad!
Then, early this month, we took our vacation and traveled to Virginia. It took a few days to finish recovering from that, and now...


I'm not sure where I'm going now.

For months, I've had something to focus on, something to stress about and pray about. I still have a lot to work on personally, but it's strange to not have something big coming up.

I'm very grateful for our home, my son, my two brother-in-laws who live with us, our two dogs, and Grig's job. This post isn't about ingratitude.

I'm just kind of...confused and maybe feeling a bit directionless. We have things coming up in a few months, but they're not really things that involve making major life changes. We've been doing a lot of yard work and puppy training, but it just feels like there's a big vacancy in my head.
Kevin took this picture. He's getting to be a better photographer. 
There are some major purchases that we need to make. Our car is hovering on the brink of death (it feels like that sometimes, anyway. It keeps stopping randomly and it having a lot of issues, but every time we take it to the mechanic, it works perfectly). However, currently, we're not sure how much money we're actually making, so we don't know if we can afford to make car payments or not.

We began insurance in March, but we back-payed to the beginning of February. So, for the last two months, we've been paying for insurance, plus back-paying for an extra month of insurance. We've had just enough money for the bills and the things that we needed and not much extra. This coming in paycheck next week will be our first paycheck that actually shows us how much extra we're making now that we're not back-paying anymore.

We also have made some fairly expensive purchases recently, and so I'm a bit stressed about money. We received a coupon for an air-duct cleaning for a really good deal, and so we called and scheduled an appointment with them. When they came, they also check our our furnace, and vacuumed out our dryer vent.

When they checked our furnace and input vents, they were pretty horrified by the sight. I was a bit disgusted too. We're pretty sure the vents and furnace have never been cleaned. They explained to me that furnace efficiency goes down every year due to sediment in the furnace, and it raises the cost to heat the house.

After talking about it to Grig, we decided to pay a much bigger sum of money to have them deep clean the furnace and vents. They also installed a filter that would never need to be replaced, just washed and vacuumed. They also tried to sell us a couple of other things, but they were way out of our price range, and we weren't really interested in them anyway.

After they finished, there was a noticeable difference in the house. Both Allopex and I noticed a "lightening" and the air was much better. We felt like we have made a good decision. It will also lower our heating costs next year, and so it might end up paying for itself.
Kevin loves to ride his bike!

The sad thing was, we ended up having to use the money that we'd been saving to build a fence, and now we don't have any money to build it. We can save it up again, but it is a bit of a sad set-back.

Also, now that we have dental insurance, we decided it was time to see the dentist. I ended up having a cavity and a couple of other places they wanted to work on, and while I got those fixed yesterday, Grig had his appointment and found out he had several cavities, and their recommending a crown. They showed us an estimate of how much we're going to have to pay, and it was very sad. I'm so grateful we have dental insurance though. It's going to save us over $1000. As it is, it's still going to cost over $500 when all is said and done.

They're going to break up the different work so it's not as bad to pay, but still. Ouch.

So, I guess I'm a bit disappointed because I was really looking forward to building our fence this year, and now I'm not sure that it's going to happen. I'm also feeling a bit doubtful about our having a baby anytime soon, but I'm trying to hope. It's just been a long time, and every month is like a gauntlet.

Anyway, a lot of neat things have happened lately, and I'm grateful that we've had the money to take care of them and ourselves. The Lord has blessed us a lot, and I'm trying to stay hopeful and faithful. Our lives are pretty wonderful, and I'm trying to focus on my blessings. I know that things will work out. I know that some awesome things are coming, if I can maintain my faith.

Sorry for the long random post. I just needed to collect my thoughts, I guess.
Kevin, playing on his uncle's computer.

So, I guess it comes down to the fact that the things that I was looking forward to, I'm not sure if we can afford, and so now I'm not sure what to look forward to. For now, I'll try and just look forward to spending every moment with my amazing son, husband, and two dogs.
This photo shows a good size comparison. 

They're pretty awesome, after all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Haircuts, Dentist, and Attitude

On Monday, I gave Kevin a haircut. He was not very pleased with the idea. However, as I am a lazy mother, my theory on my son's hair is this: If I have to comb it, it's time to cut it.

As you can see from the before pictures, he didn't want a haircut.

It went pretty well, though he cried the whole time. When we finished, he didn't want a bath, so I cleaned off the extra hair with a wet washrag and took him into the bathroom to show him how handsome he was.

At first, he seemed like he was going to cheer up, but then he spotted an old scrape on his forehead. Immediately, (even though it had been there for two days) he said, "It hurt me!" and he began to cry again. So, even though I assured him that this particular injury was already there and hadn't been caused by the clippers, the after pictures are just as sad as the before ones.
You can see the tiny pinpoint scab on the right side of his forehead.
It didn't take long for him to cheer up, however. I had cut everyone else's hair recently, and Kevin was happy to join the hair-cutting club.

Tuesday was Kevin's first dentist appointment. (I had one too, but it wasn't my first, thankfully.)

He did really well! It helped that I went first, and they let him watch. Then, when it was his turn, he was very obedient and held open his mouth when asked. They told us that his teeth looked great and he has really nice spacing between his baby teeth. I was really proud of how well he did. The nurses were impressed and one of them asked me if he was almost four. I told her he had just turned 3 in November, and she was surprised. She said that she didn't usually see such mature boys, mostly girls.

He wasn't scared at all, and the staff did really well with him. After we got home, he started doctoring his T-rex's teeth and repeating things the doctors had told him, like "Doesn't that taste like candy?". It was really cute. I should have gotten a picture.

Instead, here's one of him coloring on the side walk with chalk.

Siff is doing really well. She loves her kennel, and goes in there to sleep on her own. She's doing really well with potty-training and everything else. She does have a bit of an attitude though.
Now, don't get me wrong. She's not aggressive, and she isn't really disobedient. She just knows what she wants and she's not afraid to tell you about it.

For example, last night, Siff was having a bit of diarrhea. She had to go outside every hour or so. At one point, I nearly put her kennel outside and just let her stay out, but visions of her being eaten or something else terrible happening forced me to let her in a short time later. (I have a very active imagination.) So, I opened the door to let her in, and she ran right over to Arkhon's bed and laid down, as though to say, "I want to sleep here, thank you."

I laughed and told her that I would love for her to be able to sleep there, but not until she had been accident-free for a few months. She went pretty willingly into her kennel after that. She just likes you to know her opinions.

She's pretty awesome and adorable. She and Arkhon get along great, and she's so sweet to everyone.
For a random addition, on Sunday, Grig found a garter snake and brought it home.It was really pretty. Arkhon found it very interesting before Grig let it go again.

I love my family.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kevin's First Primary Talk

In our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormon church), they have what is called Primary. Primary is where the kids go during two of the three hours of church.

My calling (the job I was asked to do) in the church is to be a primary chorister. I teach the children songs about the Savior and the gospel. I really enjoy my calling. The primary is separated into three groups, nursery, junior, and senior. The nursery has children from 18 months to 2 years. Junior primary has children from 3-7, and senior primary has children from 8-11.

Junior primary meets together first during the first hour (which is when the primary presidency teaches them lessons for half the time and I teach them music for half the time), and then they go to individual age classes for the second hour. During the first hour, the senior primary meets in their individual classes, and then they come into one group for the second hour.

Every week at the beginning of primary, three kids sit up at the front. As the meeting starts, one kid gives the opening prayer, one child reads a scripture, and one child gives a prepared talk.

This week it was the sunbeams (the three-year-olds) turn to do the opening exercises. We received a call thirty minutes before church started asking us if Kevin could give the talk. We immediately accepted and I was pretty excited about it. It would be his first time giving the talk.

He and I sat down at the computer and we wrote and typed up his talk together. Here is the typed talk. We took turns typing.

Kevin’s talk

Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer.

One time, I lost my play-dough lid. I prayed to Heavenly Father, and I found it! I know that Jesus found my play-dough lid.

My favorite stories about Jesus, are when Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. Jesus said, “Peace, be still.”  jgmfkfk


I know that Jesus died and came back to life. I know that Jesus loves me. 


Jesus saved the world.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Portrait of Christ

Kevin can now write his name on the computer all by himself. He's a pretty smart kid, and so he wrote his name at the top.

When we got to primary, his daddy helped him read the talk. He did such a good job! At first, when he started repeated what his dad whispered to him, the kids were kind of chatty, but as Kevin continued a quietness fell over the room and everyone started listening to him. It was really nice. I was so proud, I nearly cried. He spoke clearly and loudly, and did his very best.

I love my son.

I am so grateful for our church and for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the peace it brings into our lives. I love being able to serve in the primary. The children's simple testimonies are some of the strongest that I have ever heard, and I feel privileged to be able to teach them and share my testimony with them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Virginia Vacation 2016

It's been a pretty crazy week. This is our first day back on the normal schedule, and it's super nice to be home.

It was also super nice to travel and visit family.

Last Tuesday, my parents returned from Florida and picked up our dogs on their way through town. The timing was fantastic, because my sister offered to watch the dogs while we were gone, and there wasn't really any other way we could have gotten them to Idaho without a lot more travel.

Then, we spent most of Wednesday packing and preparing for our trip. Grig, Kevin, Grig's two brothers, and I were all leaving together. Then, at about 5:00 pm, we drove off to the Salt Lake airport. There we met Grig's sister and her husband.

We boarded our flight by 8:00 and arrived in Denver, CO at about 10:30 p.m. It was dark, so Kevin couldn't really see the plane take off, but he still yelled, "We're flying like Superman!" several times.

We had an all-night layover. That would have been fine, if they hadn't had fire alarm tests and other loud sounds going off every 30 minutes. Grig and Kevin fell asleep at about 12:30 a.m., but Grig woke up at 3:30 a.m. when the loudest of all the drills went off. It continued for about 10 minutes. Surprisingly, Kevin and Grig's sister were able to sleep through it, but everyone else was either already awake, or woke up.

We'd hear the alarm going loudly, and then it would be interrupted by: "This is only a test. Please do not vacate the premise. This is only a test." Then the alarm would begin blaring again.

We finally started laughing from the sheer ridiculousness of it. After that, I fell asleep from about 4-5:30. We woke up, got breakfast and boarded our second flight. Kevin never woke up as we got on the plane and flew. We finally woke him up just before we landed so he wouldn't get too far off schedule.

Then, we arrived in Virginia at about 12:30 p.m. We picked up our rental cars and drove to Grig's parents' home.

Grig's mom wasn't home. She was at the hospital with Grig's younger sister Argent (who lived with us for a while). We were hoping that they would be able to come home while we were there, but that didn't work out so well.

We relaxed the rest of the evening and enjoyed spending time with Grig's dad and his youngest sister, both of whom we hadn't seen in a couple of years. Grig and his brothers went running through the family woods. They were pretty excited to be back in Virginia.

Friday, we woke up late and then went to visit Grig's grandmother. We were trying to see his uncle and family who had come from England, but they weren't there, so instead we asked Grig's grandmother if we could do a personal life interview. She agreed, so we were able to get some really good video footage from Grig's grandma for a while.

Just as we were about to go home, Grig's uncle and his family showed up. Grig's cousins were closer to Kevin's age than ours, and they had a great time together.

We went home to eat dinner, and then almost everyone went to a walk again. I had recently gotten plantar fasciitis a few weeks before, and so I was trying to help my feet to heal by staying off of them as much as I could. Due to that, Kevin and I remained at home this time.

Saturday we met at Grig's grandmother's home again to have a family dinner. I took many pictures and got to know Grig's family better.

Kevin was playing with his cousins and aunts and uncles. They were playing hide-and-go-seek. Suddenly it came to my attention that everyone was calling for Kevin. I was a bit freaked out to realize that no one knew where he was. We all began searching and calling for him. After a few minutes, we found him.

Evidently, he had been searching for a great place to hide, and had wandered away from the house toward the neighbor's. Suddenly, he realized that he was all alone. He began to call for me, and that's when the neighbor heard him. She quickly put on her shoes, came outside, and found poor Kevin. He told her he couldn't find his mommy. She was a friend of Grig's grandma, and knew about the party, so she told him that she knew where his mommy was. He immediately reached out his arms and she picked him up and brought him back to us.

When I took him in my arms, he said, "I couldn't find you, Mommy. I call and I call and I not find you!" It was very sad. However, the next thing he said made me laugh. He then added, "I not find a hide place."

Poor cute kid. I was glad that turned out so well. It could have been much worse.

Afterward we decided that he won. No one found him after all.

The rest of the party went well and everyone had a great time. The food was also amazing. I ate way too much.
Grig and Allopex looking for arrowheads.
That night was also General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That took up most of the rest of the evening. The sessions were awesome! I love conference. There were so many good talks that had things I really needed to hear.

Sunday we had a pretty lazy day as we watched the last couple of sessions of conference. Between the two sessions, Grig, Allopex, Kevin, and I went on a walk. Allopex left halfway through, but it was fun to have him along for a while. The woods around their house are beautiful. I haven't been there in April before. It is fun to see the farm at different times of the year.

Monday, we all decided to go to Baltimore to visit Argent in the hospital. It was great to see both her and Grig's mother. I think they were really happy that we came. Kevin was very excited to see his grandma and "his" Argent. Every time he sees her picture, he gets really excited. While we were there, the doctor informed her that she might be able to go home the next day. That was pretty exciting. We were hoping she would be able to come home with us before we left, but we wanted her to be sure she was healthy before she did.

We had rented two cars, so the first car went home after we ate lunch at the hospital. (By the way, I ordered a ranch chicken burger at that hospital and it was the best thing I have ever eaten. I've been wanting another one ever since. If you're ever in Baltimore, stop at the John Hopkins Hospital and try one.)

We visited with Argent a while longer, and then, when she was feeling tired, we went to the Barnes and Noble there. We wanted to go to the National Aquarium, but it was way expensive for only having three hours until it closed. We hadn't been to a book store in a while, and Grig's youngest sister was really excited about going there.

It turned out to be one of my favorite parts of going east (besides family, of course). We had a good time browsing books in the book store, but in the bay next to it they had the last surviving ship from Pearl Harbor. They also had a play area and we really really enjoyed using the equipment.

It was fun to look around. We brought our GPS to use in our car, but the rental car's cigarette lighters didn't work. So, we would turn on the GPS, write down the direction s and turn it off again, or use it until it died, and then use the written directions. However, we found Barnes and Noble without using it, and then it died, so we didn't have any directions on how to leave Baltimore.

We had a pretty good time driving around Baltimore, trying to find a way out. It was occasionally frustrating, but often enjoyable. Baltimore drivers are interesting. I'm pretty sure I saw every traffic law being broken as we drove around. Eventually, with some luck (and some prayers) we found our way out and back home. Grig's dad had prepared us a delicious supper of lamb, broccoli, and rice.

Tuesday was our last day. We went for a walk in the morning, and then visited some friends and neighbors of Grig's. We should have done it before the last day, but it didn't work out until then. We also picked up some treats for the next day's travels and filled the car up with gas.

We got back in time to have a fire and cook up hot dogs and s'mores. We had a really good time.

We traveled to the Reagan airport the next day and got on our first flight at 1:30 p.m. We flew back to Denver and then had a layover of 2-3 hours. Then, after a short flight back to Salt Lake, we drove home and got to bed by 11:00 p.m. It wasn't until the last flight that Kevin really got to see the plane take off and land. He really enjoyed flying.

Grig had work the next morning, so we woke up at 5:00 a.m., and drove him into work. Then, Kevin and I drove up to Idaho and picked up the dogs and spent some time playing and talking with my family. The dogs looked great and Siff had grown so much! I took a short nap and then we drove home to spend a mostly relaxing evening with Grig. Kevin slept the whole way home, so he wasn't very tired at bedtime. So, after Grig got to bed, Kevin and I ran to the store to buy groceries.
Kevin with my mom.
It was nice to sleep in our own bed and sleep in a little this morning. It was a great vacation, but it's nice to have the dogs back and to be on a mostly normal schedule again.

Welcome home!