Summer Recap

It’s not for lack of events that I’ve neglected writing, just lack of energy and discipline. I’ll try to make this not too long, but would like to give everyone an update on us.

Somehow as your little kids get a bit older the true “New Year” moves from January into September, when the fresh slate of the new school year seems a much more apt time to “pull things together” than January, when you’re really in the middle of everything and not recovered from the holidays.

We didn’t go far this summer, just one quick weekend in Vegas with David’s brother Ben and his family, a day in San Diego to the Wild Animal Park, and a day in Santa Barbara to the great zoo there. And, aside from that, we frankly didn’t do much around here either. But, we’ve been trying to make up for it with lots of field trips in these last few weeks before school starts September 6th. We’re going to the beach in Malibu for the third time in a week tomorrow, thanks in part to the crazy heat wave that warrants escaping. We went to the Getty Museum last week and had a great time at their family center and with their scavenger hunt, where the kids find images off of clue cards in paintings in certain galleries. Of course they love the gardens, and I love the simultaneous view of Downtown and Century City to the East, the beaches to the West. I did get a lot of “you’re crazy!” looks with my four young children at such a civilized place, but whatever.

So, Benjamin, Sophie and Noah are off to Sierra Madre School on Thursday, Ben in third, Sophie in first, and Noah in the half-day PreK. It will be weird being at home with Lucy on our own, but I have plans for that time, trying to recover physically and mentally from the past year, no—six years. It will involve cleaning house and talking walks and shopping with ONLY one or two kids—weird! Once I’m more settled, it might also involve a little working from home if I can arrange it. My calling was changed from Humanitarian Aid to Relief Society Teacher, but they didn’t replace the Humanitarian Aid calling, which I feel is important, so I’m still trying to keep up some of that. I’ve been subbing as chorister and teacher in primary sometimes, but generally Church is low-key after the Sacrament Meeting Christensen Family Circus is over.

I’ve been in a weird funk most of the summer, but a very, very sad thing happened to a sweet friend of mine a few weeks ago when she suddenly lost her son, and somehow, being with her through that awful time put my fake problems into perspective. Such huge pain is so crushing, and only the Lord can understand it. I think something changed in me when I asked Heavenly Father to help me show her and her daughters His love and asked him to show me how to help them. He just poured this love through me and I was literally overwhelmed by it—I could even feel it physically. And when I realized how much He loved these people, then realized how much He loves all of us like that, it was very eye opening. I saw this poor family suffering and it just made the love bigger, inherently more painful, but so surprisingly huge and personal. Something about that experience really did a mind adjustment on me, and I really had to just stop the moping.

Benjamin was baptized on August 18th and received the Holy Ghost on the 19th. He said —rather surprised—that he did feel the spirit during the talks at his baptism, during the actual ordinance, and the next day as he was confirmed. He was so happy to have all the family support he did, as so many came in from out of town. It was a really great day and weekend. The Christensen’s came early and we went to the beach, my mom stayed an extra few days after and we had a good time.

Ben seems naturally excited and nervous about school, as I am I on his behalf, but we’ll just have to pray, hope and see how it goes. Some days I really think he’s growing up, and others I wonder why I had thought that. But, I do see HUGE improvements with Ben when he is put to work vs. when he just is playing and being entertained. Case in point, at the end of a super fun-filled, totally child-centered day last week when I said it was time to go home, I got this conversation:

MOM: It’s time to go, get in the van please.

BEN: Why do we have to go? I never get what I want. Why can’t I get what I
want just once in my life?

MOM: Today we went to the park, had a play date, ate lunch at Del Taco, watched a movie, and went to the park again. You’re fine. Sophie, get in the van.

SOPHIE: I don’t want to go, why do you always make us have to go? I want to stay!

MOM: We need to eat dinner, get in the van.

SOPHIE: You’re the worst mom EVER. What’s for dinner, anyway?

BEN: Probably something gross, as usual.

I’ll take the fifth on my response to these comments. So, there’s my life. Amused or disgusted? Perhaps you blame lack of discipline. Well, perhaps it is that I alternate days of complete play and freedom with drudging slavery. An amusing side note, I said to Ben after this, “You know, on these play days, you guys act entitled and bratty, on work days, you are pretty much well behaved, thankful and respectful. I’m thinking play days are not working out for us.” To which Ben replied casually, as he looked out his van window, “Yeah, I guess we should probably have more work days.”

So, my huge epiphany lately has been child slavery. Spencer W. Kimball (and many other wise men and women) say it is the key to character, and we should create work for our children. I think the truth of that is made clear rather quickly, as I see the huge difference in attitude at the end of a work day vs. a play day. Carla, my sister in law, shared a quote from a conference she attended which said it was the lazy parent who did everything for their children. I understand that now, that it takes much more work to expect much, explain how things should be done, follow up, retrain, follow up again. I know when I send Ben in to clean a bathroom with a list of instructions, that it won’t be done properly and he’ll probably come out covered in germs, but I do it, and weirdly, he thinks it’s fun.

And the bathroom is at least better than before. However, he just may play with the plunger on the back of the toilet, and the large, porcelain lid to the back of the toilet just may get suctioned up by said plunger just long enough to be lifted up before losing its suction and falling to the floor very, very loudly in a million billion pieces. And I may think that I’m such a nice parent that I handled it so calmly, but then I might totally lose it when I walk in 10 minutes later and the plunger is now attached to the vanity mirror. These things may happen. But the work pays off regardless.

Same goes for Sophie, who, in the right mood, is an amazing worker, very diligent. Sometimes I’ll send her off to do a job and forget about her and be surprised a long time later when she comes down and I ask where she’s been and she reminds me I sent her to do a big job, and by the way, it’s done. Sometimes it takes much more drama, though, which unfortunately I believe she has learned from Ben. Sophie has her apprehensions about school starting, but seems excited. She has been swimming better, willing to go underwater and much more confident. She hasn’t done gymnastics this summer and we’ll probably have to wait until January to start that sort of thing back up again. She misses her friend Sydney still quite a bit, and it seems she doesn’t quite have the social life she did, but hopefully that will rectify with school. She is amazing on her bike, no training wheels, and on the monkey bars, where she can swing now skipping two bars all the way across. She is super strong. She has begun to use the adjective “rockin” which I don’t approve of. Her reading has improved in part due to time4learning.com, which we’ve done this summer. Her 6th birthday is on the 27th of this month. She is just a beautiful kid.

Noah has graduated from speech therapy and talks like crazy, although his syntax is a little weird. He still says “mine” for “I” or “my”. The word order is a little funny. Examples: “That thing. Fall down. Head me” (translation: a thing fell off the washer and hit me in the head) or “My nap, that one.” (translation: I want to sleep in that sleeping bag).

He is such a physical guy. People in public are always trying to warn me about what he’s climbing on or doing, as they fear he’ll fall, but he won’t and doesn’t. He likes to attack his siblings with full tackles. He loves to both hit and hug, often in close succession. He loves to try to pick up Lucy and carry her around, which of course I discourage, but she loves it when he plays with her, and he always tries to make her laugh.
Today she was crying when I put her in the high chair and he came over and said, “No cry Lucy, it ok, mine here now.” (which you probably understand means, “I’m here, don’t cry.”) He is a lovey little guy, but seriously can hurt people, but it’s generally done in a non-mean-spirited way. It’s almost like he is trying to relieve tension with it.
It turns out he’s not hypoglycemic. We had our visit with Children’s Hospital and they said there were three issues: 1) hypoglycemia, which they think was a false positive and just gave us some things to look out for just in case 2) underweight, which they said he was just following his father’s growth curve of delayed development and seems perfectly healthy and 3) protruding tummy, which they said was filled with air, and that we should try mylicon to see if it goes away and also take him off of dairy and probably gluten for a whole month to see if it goes down. He is potty training pretty well, but after almost a week dry we’ve been having some setbacks. We’re working on it though and trying to avoid the negativity and power struggles, which definitely takes work. His cuteness helps.

Lucy is now 15.1 pounds and her weight gain is starting to get back to a normal curve, although she is on gluten. We think the weight flatlining was caused by a belly bug, which we took care of with meds. She has two teeth on the bottom, still very little hair, and looks like a six month old with long legs.

She walked today about 10 steps holding just my finger with one hand. She cruises the furniture no problem and crawls like she’s at the Baby Indy 500. She babbles a ton, and seems to sometimes use “dada” and “mama” in context.
On August 24th she was a full year adjusted, ie., that was her due date. She is really almost 15 months old, although she still wears 3-6 mo clothes. She is a VERY happy baby and has the best grin.
David was singing “twinkle twinkle” with Noah a few weeks ago and she started opening and closing her hands over her head to imitate them. Now, she does this over her head often if she hears any music, like today at church when the hymn started.

David is doing well, all the summer scout stuff is over, he barely survived drowning on the rafting trip and came home from scout camp with the traditional crazy haircut the scouts gave him, which actually turned out well because he looks very good in the buzz cut which was required to “fix” it. He’s working and going to the beach with us when he can. That’s probably about all he’d want me to share with anyone. Actually, I’ve probably already said too much by his standards. 😉

Hopefully I’ll get back to being more regular so these won’t have to be so long. Love to all!

Valerie

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