Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Awesomeness

1: The second week in April was testing week at Bree and Mason's school. Since the other grades needed extra classrooms for testing, the kindergarteners had full-day field trips Tuesday through Friday! This was a big deal to our half-day kindergartener. And a big deal for me too, since it meant that during the 2-1/2 hours Lincoln was in preschool, I was all by myself! Totally alone! It was strange and wonderful. I am proud to say that I wasted away my hours of solitude being totally unproductive.
2: Chad and I had made plans to go to the temple together one Friday (Chad hasn't been to the Gilbert Temple since the open house), and we had a babysitter for Lincoln all lined up. Chad had an MRI for his wrist that morning (he messed it up punching our heavy bag in our backyard), and the procedure was running a little long. But I was pretty sure we could still make it to the temple. I was really excited because I had found a bunch of family names that morning, and was ready to do some baptisms and sealings. Then he called me to say that the wheel fell off the Suburban...."Huh?" I replied intelligently. The actual wheel fell off. Not just the tire. The wheel. Luckily he was in a school zone at the time--things could have been really ugly if he had been going fast when it happened. Needless to say, we didn't make it to the temple that day. After getting a tow he got a ride home with our Home Teacher (who was "coincidentally" passing by at the time). Then we did the only logical thing. Drowned our sorrows with greasy Smashburgers.
3: This was really a banner week for us. Our air conditioning stopped working. My cousin, who deals with A/C for a living, literally saved us. He rearranged his entire schedule so we wouldn't have to suffer another 90+ degree day without cooling. We thanked him profusely as the blessedly cold air was again coming out of our vents. We tried not to dwell on the thousands of dollars that our catastrophic week was costing us.
4: A high point amid the stress was our semi-annual community carnival. I entered my favorite pie in the pie contest, which turned out to be just me and one other guy. I totally won.
5: Lincoln turned three! I totally dropped the ball and didn't even make cupcakes for his preschool class (gasp!). But he didn't seem to mind.
6: We try to keep the pantry door closed most of the time...because if we don't, this happens. Lincoln knows exactly where we keep the candy. And if we don't have actual candy, he knows that chocolate chips will do in a pinch.
7 and 8: We don't go to too many of ALA's family activities, because we are usually busy. But when it was "Frozen" pajama-party-movie night, I couldn't say no. We took our own snacks, but Mason cannot resist blowing his hard-earned allowance anytime he sees something he wants. He had to have a tattoo. And Bree totally ditched us for her friends. That's the way it should be, right?
9: I made the most adorable and delicious cupcakes the day before our family Easter celebration. That night three of us started throwing up. So not only did we not get to go to the Easter party, I was stuck with 5 dozen cupcakes that no one else could eat without risking getting sick. They are still in the freezer. I figure it's probably safe if I eat them. But I'm not sure I'll be able to think about eating them any time soon.
10 and 11: It was totally time for Lincoln to graduate his crib. We were just enjoying the fact that he was not able to climb out of it, and we dreaded making the transition to a big bed. He and Mason share a room, and we knew he would just keep getting out of bed to play. So Chad took the side off the crib and put it on the bottom bunk. Problem solved. It's a...big boy crib. Not a baby jail, despite appearances.
12: Chad's parents stayed with us the weekend of Bree's baptism. Fran bought some beautiful flowers to put on the table, and they were barely open on the big day. Still beautiful though. I took this picture a few days later to send to her, proving how lovely they were. We hardly ever have real flowers in the house, and I enjoyed their cheeriness while it lasted.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bree's Baptism

In her own words:

I prepared for my baptism by listening to my mom and dad and by praying. My parents helped me prepare for baptism by teaching me right from wrong. I chose to be baptized because it is one of Jesus's commandments.

I was baptized by my dad on April 26th, 2014. I was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The witnesses of my baptism were Grandpa Wallace and Grandpa Wilkinson.

When I was baptized I felt the spirit. The water was warm and comforting. I felt happiness and proud of myself. When I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt the spirit and I began to cry.

What else could I possibly add? I am so proud of my daughter. And I'm so grateful to the family and friends who were able to join us for her special day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lincoln is Three!

Lincoln is my baby. I adore him. He is such a sweet little boy.

But he's three now. Hardly a baby anymore.

He is smaller than average. Strangers who don't recognize his diagnosis look really confused when I tell them his age. Some of them are insensitive enough to say things like, "Wow! He's so little! I would have guessed 18 months!" Then I get to say, "Well, he has Down Syndrome." And they look embarrassed and awkward. Serves them right.

But I have to say, he is pretty darn advanced. So advanced that the state won't give him disability benefits, because he isn't delayed enough to qualify. Which is awesome and annoying at the same time. He's been flourishing at preschool, is talking more and more, and is mastering climbing stairs with minimal help. His sign language continues to be impressive. And his fine motor skills are on par with typically-developing kids his age. Amazing.

He is curious and engaged and into everything. He is incredibly social. When we go out places, he waves and says "Hi. Hi." at everyone we pass by. He has picked up a couple cute habits from other kids at preschool, like raising his hand and saying "Me!" when I ask who wants something. He also says "Mine!" a lot, though I don't think he knows what it means--he just uses it to voice his displeasure (like when he didn't want to actually get washed during bath time..."Mine! Mine! Mine!"). He is learning letters and colors, and can identify us by name (Daddy, Mama, "Bee," and...he's still learning to say Mason's name). His favorite things to watch are Signing Time, or anything with animals or singing.

Unfortunately, his birthday falls two weeks after Bree's, and the celebration was a little anticlimactic. I didn't even get his presents wrapped in time. Also, he wasn't feeling well. Luckily, he is still young enough that we got away with basically doing nothing on his actual birthday, April 15th.

But I did make an ice cream cake, because ice cream is his favorite food in the entire world.

It was only one day late.

So on April 16th, Lincoln blew out his own candles.

On the 17th he actually ate some of his ice cream cake. (He was feeling better by then)
And he opened his birthday card from Grandma and Papa Wallace.
Hi Gramma and Papa! Thank you!
On the 19th, he finally opened his presents.

All in all, it was a small celebration. But we are totally okay with that. Thankfully, Lincoln is too.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Neighborhood Carnival: Take Two

This time around we were seasoned carnivalers (that's a word, right?). We got there at the beginning to beat the heat and the crowds. There were new things to do this time, like a little "train" ride, and the bungee tramp (Bree is so brave!).

The kids weren't shy about competing in the races. And Bree spent most of her time running around with her friends.

Fun. Free. Awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Conference Cash

Twice a year we block out Saturday and Sunday to watch and listen to our church leaders in General Conference. It's two two-hour blocks on each day. We expect our kids to watch with us.

This isn't easy.

I've tried a few things in the past to help them stay focused. This year I added Conference Cash to the equation. They could earn Cash by completing activity pages and taking notes from the speakers. They did a pretty admirable job.

Then, after each session, they could shop in the reward store. Mason was especially motivated by the Legos (we found a huge stash at a recent yard sale--so awesome). Bree spent most of her money on candy.

My favorite thing about this set-up was that they paid attention, and were pretty quiet most of the time. Which allowed me to actually listen and take my own notes. The older I get, the more I seem to get out of Conference. It truly is a highlight. And if my kids remember nothing else, I hope they remember that we always made an effort to watch, and I hope they learn to look forward to it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's great to be eight!

When did I become old enough to have an eight-year-old? My first baby is a big girl. It's a bit overwhelming. Don't get me wrong: parenthood has been overwhelming from the get-go (This newborn depends on me for everything!...This toddler will form most of her neural connections before she's five!...Which school should I choose to help shape who she is as an individual?!). But turning eight means she is a full-fledged accountable person, ready to make baptismal covenants. And all we can do as parents is teach her the best we can, and hope we did okay.

This past year we've been focusing on helping Bree prepare to be baptized. Our daily scripture reading has moved out of "Book of Mormon Stories" (illustrated version) to the actual Book of Mormon. We've talked a lot about our testimonies, and Bree bears hers in Sacrament Meeting every chance she gets (although she has been doing that for years). She has taken an active role in our Family Home Evening discussions, and blows me away with her knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

She really was ready. Ready to turn eight. Ready to be baptized. Ready to make the choice to get her ears pierced. And ready to party.

The morning of her party, my mom and I took her to get her ears pierced. She had previously chosen the biggest, sparkliest pair of stones she could get. She was pretty brave. I think it surprised her how much it actually hurt.

For her party, she chose to have a birthday lunch at Panda Express with the family, then a trip to the theater to see a movie (When I first asked her where she wanted to go for her birthday, she said, "Disneyland!" When I asked her what her second choice was, she said "Go to the movie theater!" Done.).

Afterwards we went back to our house to enjoy the birthday dessert Bree had designed. Chocolate pie with layers of fudge, Snickers, pudding, and whipped topping, all in an Oreo crust. My teeth are aching a bit just thinking about it.

Then it was time for presents. Books from Adam and Heather (Bree LOVES to read). Earrings, a baby doll (with brown eyes and blonde hair...virtually impossible to find) and a white tiger (she is still in a stuffed animal phase) from Chad and me. A white sweater and a homemade personalized scripture case from my parents.

Bree is kind, thoughtful, smart, curious, empathetic, brave, and so loving and helpful. She can be precocious, moody, and dramatic. She certainly keeps life interesting. I look at her today, with her thick ponytail and pierced ears, and hear her spouting random facts using big words, and I think, "Who are you? My little girls looks like this:"

But the years ahead, though they scare the heck out of me, are going to be great. 

This was a big year for Bree. One to remember.

 Bree's 8-Year-Old Interview:
What is your favorite color? blue
What is your favorite toy? fashion sketch book
What is your favorite TV show? Animal Atlas
What is your favorite movie? Harry Potter
What is your favorite thing to wear? Shorts and tee-shirts
What is your favorite animal? giant panda
What is your favorite song? "I Like to Look for Rainbows"
What is your favorite book? Charlotte's Web
Who is your best friend? Cassidy (girl in class at school)
What is your favorite drink? strawberry lemonade
What is your favorite food? spaghetti and meatballs
What is your favorite breakfast? fry bread
What is your favorite game? Disney Trivia
What is your favorite thing to do? sketch in my sketch book
Where is your favorite place to go? the mall
What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving
What makes you laugh? when I'm tickled...I only laugh when I want to laugh
What do you do really well? draw pictures
What are you afraid of? rattlesnakes
What do you love to learn about? history and science
What do you want to be when you grow up? archaeologist
If you had one wish, what would it be? to always be with my family
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