Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Whole Decade

Well, Cheek, you're 10 now. Double digits. A whole decade. That sounds like a significant amount of time, but, I swear, it all happened in the blink of an eye. I'm still shaking my head, trying to figure out where the time went.

You are not a little girl anymore, but every once in a while, you still want to hold my hand or dress like me, and I have to tell you, I cherish those moments, because I know they are fleeting. You are becoming a young woman. A beautiful, smart, funny, incredible young woman, who I am very proud to know!

You have continued with piano lessons this year, and Dad and I can really tell you are improving, and your teacher has nothing but nice things to say about you and your progress. You have also continued with Martial Arts, and you just recently became an orange belt. And, you won second place at the state PSIA meet for writing. Did I mention, I'm super-proud of you?!

You have become very interested in music in the past year, and you are always wanting me to turn up the radio in the van or turn the TV to a music station that you and your brothers can dance to. You seem to like a wide variety of music and are very quick to pick up the words. You are also planning to attend singing camp this summer. Dad and I decided to get you an iPod for your birthday, so that you can continue to develop your love for music. You are still interested in reading, cooking, sewing, animals (especially horses) and arts and crafts. And you have recently become interested in the Star Wars movies, which your Dad has thoroughly enjoyed watching with you in the last few months.

You acquired yet another brother this year, and you and he have a special bond. Clay loves spending time with you and has learned to say your name. And you are always so sweet with him, just as you have been with your other brothers. You are such a wonderful big sister and a great help to Dad and I.

You got braces in August, which instantly made you seem older. We can all tell a big difference in the straightness of your teeth, but the brilliance of your smile remains largely unchanged. You can light up a room with your smile, which encompasses your whole face. And your laugh is contagious. You are an absolute joy to be around!

While we do have a lot of fun, you and Dad and I have had the opportunity to have some pretty hard and/or serious talks this year, on a variety of topics. You always show a great deal of maturity and sensitivity in these situations and often display wisdom beyond your years. 

You reached your financial goal to save $1000 a couple of months ago and decided to retire from your laundry job. But not before opening your own checking account. You are still earning money doing some of the household paying chores, and you are very frugal and careful with how you spend your money. You generally prefer saving to spending--a habit Dad and I hope you will continue to harbor throughout your lifetime. 

These past ten years have been so much fun! It has been amazing to watch you grow and develop into the lovely young lady you are today. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be your mom. I love you more than words can say!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Star Wars Party

Princess Leia

Darth Vader Pinata

Carbonite Jell-O

"Han" Burgers

Storm Trooper Cheeseball

Light Saber Pretzels

Beautiful Birthday Girl

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Half-Birthday Fun

Today was Weston's half-birthday, so he got to set the agenda for the day. He wanted his party to start at 7:00, so he set his alarm and hopped up at that time, and he and Jeff and I all headed out on the front porch with glasses of chocolate milk. Another goal he had for the day was to eat at Subway two times, so when the rest of the crew was up, we headed to Bee Cave for breakfast at Subway, a first for all of us. After that, we moved across the highway to the Hill Country Galleria to play in the interactive fountain. And we payed and played and played. Until it was time to eat Subway again. But this time, Jeff took orders for those interested (just Weston and Max) and picked up the sandwiches to be enjoyed picnic-style. (The rest of us opted for Mexican food at Iron Cactus). Then, there was more fountain playing, until it was shut down for the day, which was around 2:00. From there, we headed over to Barnes and Noble for some quiet reading, napping and train table playing. Finally, we had ice cream at Amy's, before heading to the other side of Austin for dinner with grandparents, an aunt and a cousin. It was a truly wonderful day with our 6 1/2-year-old!

A special gift for the ultimate Angry Bird's fan

A splashin' good time

Playing with Ruth

Fun with Claycito

Subway picnic

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Belt Test

The Flying Monkey

Getting some help from the lovely assistants

A clean break

So proud of the new "lello" belt

Packing a powerful punch

A break on the first try

Looking good in yellow

Rockin' Ruth

Beware the deadly side kick 
The hard-earned orange belt

Monday, May 21, 2012

Death at the doorstep

Obviously, we are all just a breath away from death. But, at our house, someone always seems to be dying. At least that's how it sounds. So, I've made a little list of some of the ways death comes to us.*

  • cactus spines
  • fire ant bites
  • face-plant on the concrete while rollerskating
  • caterpillar stings
  • (accidental) murder by a brother, with a fireplace poker to the eye
  • skinned knees and elbows (only fatal if an adult is watching)
  • self-inflicted sledge hammer to the eye
  • ear infections
  • stubbed toes
  • bath water too hot
  • bath water too cold
  • soap in the eye
  • teething
  • headaches
  • pulled hair
  • cuts completely invisible to the naked eye
  • bonked heads
  • smashed fingers
  • nightmares
  • falling to the ground while attempting to ride the garage door up
  • perceived injustices
  • being told to "go play outside"
  • ingesting raw shrimp**

*No one has actually died, or even been seriously injured. It just sounds that way.
**The shrimp incident did not produce death cries on it's own. My reaction to that event is what brought on the near-death hysteria.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where this week went

This week just flew by. The big kids were away part of the week--Ruth, sewing with her Mimi and the boys at the ranch with Grandpa--so, of course, I delusionally thought I would get a lot of things done. But, it was quiet, so I'm not complaining! Ruth made a skirt, a shirt, a pair of shorts and a dress during her time with Mimi. And the boys had more adventures than I can possibly list, which included riding around in the backhoe, running off in some ditches, Weston driving the pickup all by himself, searching for wildlife and Weston losing another tooth. Meanwhile, Jeff and Clay and I were here, doing fun things like waiting for the dishwasher repair guy, running errands, reading the first two "Hunger Games" books, working, taking Clay in for vaccines, eating out, doing some party planning and enjoying the quiet. Then, on Thursday and Friday, Ruth took her end-of-year SAT-10 test in Austin. While she was testing, Jeff and Clay and I really took advantage of our day in the big city by bouncing around between auto shops, taking care of some of the van's needs. When Ruth finished up, we took her ice skating to celebrate a reading goal she just met. Then, we picked up the world's greatest pizza from Mangia and headed out to Lake Buchanan to pick up the big boys. On Friday, our time in Austin was spent at Chik-fil-A, where we had a surprise run-in with friends from Marble Falls and the boys had fun playing on the playscape. We then met up with Jeff's parents for lunch, before picking Ruth up. Then, the caravan of two trucks, each pulling a trailer, set off for Lake Conroe. Our ultimate destination was Cleveland, to help unload a barn for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are getting ready to sell their house. But we spent the night at Lake Conroe, where the kids played in the pool at the hotel and we had a wonderful dinner at Pueblo Viejo. We spent most of the day on Saturday loading up the trucks and trailers. Some other fun of the day included the kids playing in the pool, me getting stung by a wasp, Jeff and his dad concocting a way to load a crazy-heavy concrete culvert and the dispensing of a a great deal of treasures from the barn. Finally, our caravan--now consisting of three loaded pickups and two weighed down trailers--made our way home, stopping to eat at Lake Conroe at a super-fun place called Papa's on the Lake, and again in College Station to exchange one freezer for another. It was late when we got in, and we all just fell right into bed. Today, we unloaded trucks and trailers and enjoyed visiting with Jeff's parents and with our sister-in-law. So, that's where our week went. I'm kind of tired just thinking about it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My favorite thing about being a mom:

Hope all you moms had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

To my Little Bitty Claycito:

You turned one on Saturday, which caught me completely off-guard! I knew it was coming, but, still, I was surprised 1). because time just moves so much more quickly than I think it ought to and 2). because you are just such a little thing that I never think of you as being as old as you are. But, good news! I took you to the doctor today, and, at 16.5 pounds, you are finally on the weight-for-age growth chart. Right around the 7th percentile, but, hey, we'll take it! You are about 29 inches long (24th percentile). The doc also informed me that you have a double ear infection, which I never would have known about because you haven't been grumpy, fevery or restless much at all. In fact, you are just about the best baby I have ever been around, period. You are always just so happy and easy-going, which I can't thank you enough for, and which causes everyone who meets you to fall in love instantly.

You LOVE your older siblings and are always eager to play with them. But you are also quite happy to play by yourself. Your favorite thing to play with is a ball, but you also enjoy cars. And for some reason you get an enormous thrill out of emptying the shelves in the pantry, the lid drawer, and the drawer with all the appliance manuals, as well as any cabinet or drawer you can get open. And, if you can get away with it, you like to smash the remote controls and splash in the potties, though we do try to keep these activities to a minimum.

You have just started drinking regular whole milk and juice, and you will eat pretty much anything we put in front of you, though your favorite thing is definitely mac and cheese. And when you're done, you're done, which we can tell because you start to throw the things you don't want on the floor. You are starting to wear nine-month clothes, but you are still in size 3 diapers. You're getting bigger, but you still aren't big, by any means.

You have learned to say quite a few words, including words that sound like: mama, Ruth, dada, milk, cracker, bye-bye, hi, light and ball. And, you will mimic the sounds of other words you hear, as well. You also communicate a great deal through pointing and babbling. And smiling, clapping and kicking your feet. You are absolutely adorable!

You are still performing a very unorthodox crawl--more of a scootch, really--but you are cruising a good deal, and you are starting to take a few real steps now and then. It has to be your idea, though. If we try to stand you up and get you to walk for us, you usually just make your legs go completely floppy so you can get back down into scootching position.

You are still taking two good naps a day and are usually sleeping about 12 hours at night. Usually the only time you get fussy is when you're sleepy. And when you are truly ready for sleep, you will usually hug your blanket and then roll over and close your eyes without so much as a peep. It's definitely something the rest of us appreciate about you.

You love music and will "dance" and clap whenever you hear it. You thoroughly enjoyed every off-key singing of "Happy Birthday," during your several birthday parties.

This year with you has been so much fun! Your dad and brothers and sister and I love you so much, and we're so glad God decided to place you in our family! You are such a blessing to us! Every. Single. Day.

I love you more than words can say,

Monday, May 07, 2012

Where there's a will

We have updated drafts of our wills sitting around the house right now, waiting for our perusal, approval and signatures, before we return them to our lawyer and make them official. Of course, this has led to all sorts of fun conversations. I have, once again, been a blubbering mess in the face of all the hypothetical talk, which really inspires confidence for me to deal with any unfortunate reality that may come up. I know this is the necessary business of responsible adults, but, man, is it an unpleasant business! And, frankly, lawyers and all their legalese don't make it easier. I swear, it seems like lawyers have created this ridiculous language just to make things hard and confusing, and of course, ensure that none of us can get through this process without their help. It's all just so awesome. But, to be cliche, I suppose where there's a will, there's a way. And, truly, I wouldn't want to be caught dead without these things taken care of.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A week with The Watts

  • My sister and her family were here in the morning.
  • In the afternoon, we went over to Jeff's parents' to visit with them and with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Clay is introduced to corn-on-the-cob

  • Last day of preschool for Max.
  • Martial arts for oldest three kids.
  • Last Cub Scout meeting for Weston.
  • Jeff's half-birthday.
  • Max's first day of pre-K at home (at his insistence).
  • Round Rock Express game.
Take me out to the ballgame

  • Ruth piano lesson.
  • Martial arts.
  • Teeny, tiny birthday party for Clay with just our immediate family.
A new set of wheels

  • Early morning road trip to Belton/Temple.
  • Hanging out with Nana and Papa.
  • Date night.
  • Early morning road trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth, without the boys.
  • Received early Mother's Day gift: a new camera.
  • Shopping with Ruth in an actual mall.
  • Lunch at Souper Salad, at Ruth's request.
  • Hanging out in the lobby of a hotel we weren't staying in. 
  • Dinner at Medieval Times.
Ruth receives a flower from the Yellow Knight

  • State PSIA contest at TCU, where Ruth competed in Poetry Interpretation and Ready Writing. (She didn't advance to the finals in Poetry, but she came away with the 2nd place medal for Writing).
  • Road trip back to Belton.
  • Dinner with my parents, and cupcakes with the birthday boy.
  • Road trip back home.
Taking the 2nd place medal for Writing

The birthday boy sharing a cupcake with Nana

  • Slept in until 8:30, proving that miracles do still happen.
  • Ruth's piano recital.
  • Early Mother's Day party with my mom at Fresh and Fruiti.
  • Cook-a-thon to restock the fridge for the upcoming week.
  • Belated Cinco de Mayo party at home with homemade Mexican food.
Playing "Give Me Oil In My Lamp" for the crowd

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Retiring, Hiring and Reacquiring

Way back when Ruth was seven, she decided she wanted to earn some money. She set a goal for herself to save $1000, and I gave her a job as the family laundress. And since that time, she has diligently worked on the laundry week after week. Last week, she finally met her financial goal, and decided she wanted to retire. We are so very proud of her for her hard work!

Her retirement left a serious gap in the laundry staff, so I interviewed a nice young gentleman yesterday for the position of "sorter." He seemed eager and qualified, so I hired him on the spot. Over time, he will become eligible for some of the other positions associated with the job. I'm so glad to welcome Weston to the laundry team!

But, even with that addition, there is still a pile of work to be done. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the ridiculous pun). So, I have reacquired the job. Over the last two years, I have consistently been in charge of washing the linens, but not much else. I'm not even sure if I remember how the whole process works, as is evidenced by the fact that I keep forgetting to go in and change the loads, because I'm just not used to thinking about it. I've had it too good for too long! Hopefully, the family will extend grace to me as I get back into the laundry groove.