Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giving Change the Cold Shoulder

Every now and then things in my lil 'ol life change and I am pretty excited about it. For example, I am thoroughly excited that our weather is finally starting to cool . . . in the mornings and late evenings. I mean, who wouldn't be excited that we can enjoy a few hours in the pre-100s before 10am and after 8pm? And that cooling signifies fall decor. I'm a sucker for orange leaves. And, of course, I am thrilled that in a couple of weeks Brock's preschool starts and that means I'm back to the gym in the mornings. Seriously, I am mostly because I definitely will NOT complain about less jiggle and flab hanging out over the top of my jeans once I change our routine. Frankly, my floppiness is something we will ALL enjoy not having to be a part of. Finally, I bought a few new things on our annual trip to Swiss days and I've been excited to get some new around-the-house decorating projects worked on . . . all to change it up a bit. Just kinda get tired of looking at the same things day after day. Ya know? So, yeah, I KNOW change is good. And even when I KNOW change is good, sometimes it makes me sad.

I don't really want to belabor and whine my life away about what I struggle with, and part of my struggles should be kept a little on the down low for a bit, so I will just share a few thoughts I've recently had. Sometimes change is thrust upon me or those I love with no warning. Or, perhaps the warning signs of change-a-comin' have been there and I have purposefully ignored them. I dunno, but I do think there is a mourning process that comes along with saying good-bye to the past. Because Tyler's new job endeavor has taken us to lands unknown, I've been discovering all sorts of new aspects and mourning my comfy past. And even though I know I've had the same WONDERFUL church calling for 4 years, I am now wishing it could go on forever even though I know the changes can/may be just as blessing-filled. I have several friends whose lives have been dramatically changed and as I feel and see those changes start to eek their effects into my own life, I want to give it a good 'ol fashioned ARMADILLO position. Ya know, the covering of all sensitive areas and throwing a tough outer shell kind of a move? Not that it makes anything any different, the changes are inevitable and usually out of my control, but nonetheless I still struggle with the whole thing.

I need to get on this change ship that is sailing by with many of my loved ones, but some days I feel like I should be the dramatic, armed-crossed, back-to-the-ship, refusing to leave the dock kind of person. And yet, I will be REALLY bummed to hear of all the good adventures and lessons learned and trials overcome by those who climbed, crawled, or were forced onboard of this looming change vessel. I guess it's time to get my sea legs ready . . .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting my Blog Mojo back

I have been in a blog funk over a while. I don't know what's so hard about sitting down and writing what's been going on, but I think I get caught up in other things (eh hem, facebook) and torn about what to write. More than anything, I know I need to be better about recording our family events. The biggest blessing of this blog has been recording our lives for ALL posterity. Too, though, I know I need to have a place to voice my feelings and opinions about stuff.

We have been busy all summer and since my computer has been weighed down by the massive picture folder I have been hesitant to add more pictures until I backed up and moved pics from one computer to the other. That is tonight's project and tomorrow I will be sorting through the 4,947 pictures I took in 2008. I. am. not. joking. I have got to pull that into something manageable since there is NO way I will be scrapbooking those. I do enjoy the picasa collage option and will probably be making several of those to scrapbook the entire 2008. This summer my friends hosted a summer scrapbooking challenge and I got a whopping 27 pages done. Several of them were from Christmas cards we received last year (I like to keep all your pictures to compare from year to year) and then I did a scrapbook from the two years I taught. . . in 2000-2002. I doubt I will ever be caught up with the scrapbooking thing, but I am making little progress.

Because I need more time to work on projects, I am hosting another Scrapfest in November. This is just a bare bones kind of scrapfest that will only take place for one full 24 hour day and won't have all the giveaways and hooplah of the big shindig in February. If anyone's interested in joining (there's only 25 more spots available) you can go to the SCRAPFEST blog and click on the link to pay ($25.00) and find out more info. And for the gals who already registered I say "RIGHT ON!" We're going to have a good time and I'm looking forward to the smaller group.

Today I had a pretty emotional day. There were just several things that caused me to be overcome with emotion and gave me pause to have more gratitude in my life. My day was pretty much spent in church and, honestly, as torturous as that may sound to some, I really needed it. Sometimes I think my activity in my church becomes kinda rote and just a thing to do on Sundays, but the past couple of weeks I've been thinking about reactivating my self in my faith. I went to church this morning and dragged along my friend Stephanie and her beautiful daughter Issa with me. The couple that spoke talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy (which is all good and everything), but what really struck me was the simple admonition of the husband to the congregation. The sacrament meeting was loud, which isn't uncommon in a Mormon church due to all the kids, but this young man and his wife have had only one baby and he died after only being on earth for a week. He got quite emotional (which then I got really emotional) as he reminded all of us with unruly-climb-on-the-benches-spread-goldfish-crackers-make-too-many-sound-effects kids to be grateful for the noise because there are families out there who long to have the noise and haven't been blessed like that. UH! It was so tender. Later, after I dropped my kids off at our ward, I went to ward conference and spied a good friend of mine rocking her 5 year old "baby" in her arms. I think he fell asleep and as I could only see the tip top of his head from behind her shoulder I thought of what it must be like to have my youngest be 5. So much of the time I roll my eyes with the "responsibility," the "duty," the "job," and [yes, sometimes] the "burden" of ALL my kids. Tyler and I have been blessed. I know that mentally, but sometimes it takes a heartfelt testimony or a watching eye to really feel what I should about the great blessing of being the mom to my kids. With five kids I think I am looking forward to that day that Briggs is 5, but I believe this friend of mine wants more. She deserves more kids. She's a good mom to her kids. She's a good mom to my kids. And yet for whatever reason her baby is 5 and started kindergarten and she fills her days teaching others' children and serving those around her instead of swaddling a newborn. This same friend led the ward choir and I really struggled to keep it together for the whole song. Being there to fulfill my calling that I have loved for the past 4 years was a true blessing today I really feel like I should thank this friend for providing me with the opportunities to feel some tender mercies. (Thanks!)

So, in light of this reminder to be grateful for my family (and yes, even all their racket!) I figure it's time to share some of the past few month's happenings. Keep scrolling down for a couple posts and hopefully I will be able to post more soon. Three month gaps in the history keeping of the Barlow family means there's a lot of details I am not going to remember.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First day of School, First day of School

This year marks my official halfway mark of having children in school. Since Brev is in halfday kindergarten, I officially have 2.5 kids in school (mornings) and 2.5 kids at home (afternoons.) The morning of was warm, sunny, a little stressful, and plaid themed. JUST KIDDING, that was just coincidence.

Brevin, 1st day of kindergarten

Caylee, 1st day of 2nd grade

Mackenzie, 1st day of 5th grade

The kids have all reported school has been great most every day. Caylee is most enthusiastic and I'm realizing boys give one word reports whereas girls give me all the details. Brevin has been a big helper in kindergarten and I'm glad we kept him to be one of the older kid in his class. The kids all like their teachers and so far there has been minimal friend drama. [I never know what to do with all that. Do I get involved? Not involved? Be sympathetic? Nonchalant?]

One morning during the second week of school I dropped off Mackenzie on her playground and then rolled down the window and yelled as loud as I could, "I LOOOOVVVEEE YOU!!!" to see if I could embarrass her and she just laughed at me {LOVE that it didn't embarrass her and she laughed at me!} so then me and the boys did the same thing to Caylee when she got out of the car at her playground. Of course she ate it up. Brevin, by the time we rounded the corner to drop him off, was begging that me and Brock do the same for him. He barely got out of the car before he was looking back waiting for us to shout at him. I hope it made their day and helped them enjoy school a bit more.

Almost every day, after dropping the kids Brock says, "Well Mom, it's just the free [three] of us now. What are we going to dooo?" I call us the three amigos. Once preschool starts in a couple weeks it'll be date mornings for me and Briggs. I love it though. The routine and excitement everyday. I'm glad my kids love school and I'm so grateful for their teachers who allow them good experiences.

Work it girls!

A few years ago, when Mackenzie and my niece Sydney were starting school they put on a fashion show for my parents, my brothers, and our families modelling their new school clothes. This VERY quickly became a family tradition and something the girls look forward to while the dads and brothers and even the uncles roll their eyes over the whole thing. BUT, everyone is super supportive when it comes time to walk the walk and the girls EAT it UP. Here's some pictures of my girls from this year's fashion show:

Caylee in her "Little Ms. Stubborn" shirt. Tried for Little Miss Sunshine, but she wanted no part of it. She wouldn't budge. I guess if the shirt fits, we should buy it.

Kenzie in a handmedown t-shirt and some new jean shorts

After all the hair flipping . . . it's a Caylee close-up

Another handmedown. On behalf of the entire Barlow family, we'd like to thank Shae Haycock for bringing this sweater to our home. (Oh and total sidenote: Mackenzie had a meltdown about these jeans she has on. They're a size up from what she's been wearing and by the time it's cool enough to wear them they'll look like they were made for her, but she had MAJOR meltdown (yes, tears and everything) over how "ridiculous" and "awful" she looked in them. Oh I cannot WAIT for puberty.)

Mmmmm Hmmmmm Ms. Caylee

"What? Were you talking to me, a 5th grader???" (P.S. Shirt from Savers, or as Mackenzie and Sydney call it, "the best store EV-VERRR!)

Just realizing I have not seen Caylee wear these shorts yet. I wonder where they are . . .

One of Kenzie's favorites this year:

Caylee totally busted out with a rap video dance move mid model. No, I am not fearful AT ALL that this is art imitating her future life, right??? She just couldn't resist a little Michael (note background music)

And then Kenzie got all hard core.

Here's all our models. (Zoee, Sydney, Caylee, Shae (friend), and Kenzie.) I'm not sure where Brooklyn was for the final shot.

And the other gals with their fashions:

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I was so glad when Michael came home . . .

It feels a little silly to blog about something that happened SOO a month ago, but let's face it, I'm months behind so this is a drop in a very large bucket and I might as well get over feeling silly. And let's face it, these apologies are going to people who are just grateful to have something new in their googlereaders.

Sooo, my baby brother Michael came home from his mission on August 13th and we were so happy to have him home. Mike's return had been anticipated for a long time and I had FINALLY really started to miss him. I mean, I missed him the whole time, but I knew he was where he was supposed to be, so I didn't really think about it too much. Right after girls' camp we had a meeting and the missionaries were all there from our entire stake. They closed the meeting by singing the closing song and THAT was the first time I felt a genuine ache for my brother having been gone for (almost) two years. And just in time since from that meeting I only had to wait about 6 weeks.

We all got all cute (didn't want to have him think we got all grubby while he was gone) and made sure to arrive at the airport at a prompt time. Getting there before my mom was a particular feat since she contemplated spending the night JUST IN CASE his flight came in early. (okay, maybe not really, but she was, of course, really excited.) Here's the grandkids waiting before hand. I had asked who was excited to see Uncle Mike. Only Brooklyn fessed up and I think Austin is trying to hide his enthusiasm (Seth is just hiding behind the pole):

We were joined by our cousins Jerolyn, Maggie, and family friend Chris for Mike's arrival. My brother, David, was a tid bit late, but had provided us with cute posters to hold anyway.

Ok. And I just have to say how great it is that the younger cousins (pictured above) love each other as much as the older generation pictured below:

OK, so this picture is out of order, but this is from our Summer Countdown chain. Additional writing by Briggs and I think it says, "I guess I'm excited to meet this guy I don't even know."

Here's a shot with all the grandkids and Grandma waiting for Mike. We narrowed down which escalator it would be by asking the first ones down which flight they were on.

Michael's companion was actually from Las Vegas too, which made for a large crowd and a huge cheer. I think it would be great if people would always cheer for others when they got off the escalators into baggage claim. We could hire our services. Anyway, here's what I saw looking back at the crowd once we knew it was his flight coming into baggage claim:

And what I saw looking up the escalator. (That's Mike with the camera blocking his face.)

Oh and you know my mom lost it about right then.

Poor Michael wanted to hug and greet and meet and all Brock wanted to do was climb on him and be held. We kept having to tell him to get off of Uncle Mike, but considering Brock had been praying for Uncle Mike for two years, I think he was pretty excited that he did come home safely.

K, I'm not just sayin' this because Mike's my brother (okay, maybe I am), but I thought he was so good-looking! He didn't look that much different than when he left. It was just good to see him. With the parentals:

And all the siblings. [Note. We did not color coordinate, but HOW COOL that we mostly all match.]

The kidlets with their Uncle Mike. Now who are they going to send all their construction paper drawings to?

It was a great day for our whole family. We went to the church where Mike was released as a missionary for the church by our stake president and then we went to lunch at In-and-Out Burger. I took my kids home to nap and give Mike some space before the adults went to dinner at BJs and then to the church to play a great game of dodgeball. Nothing says "glad you're home" like a good whack with a dodgeball.

Mike's now in the swing of things with school and work and cell phones and fancy Mac laptops (the perks of being the baby . . . TOTALLY kidding Mike. I meant the perks of working hard before your mission to save up for fancy Mac laptops!) It's fun to have him around and to talk with him and just have him be close. The first day home we stopped by Mom's for a minute and when Brevin saw Mike he said, "Hey! What are you doing here???" I think he was genuinely surprised Mike was still around. The great news is he's not going anywhere so out of touch again. I'm grateful. Love me some Baby G! Welcome home Mike!