Monday, November 4, 2013

It's Autumn Time! (and Christmas too!)

 This amazing family picture was taken in Colorado at our first ever Mark & Ellen Fillmore Family Reunion.  Sarah has really developed her photography skills!  The reunion was a blast!  It was really good to get to know my nieces and nephews better- some of whom I'd never even met.
 I have been doing a lot of hard pondering lately about myself, my appearance, my weight, and my physical abilities.  While life moves on at 100 mph, it's hard to take a step back and evaluate the quality of that life.  My evaluation has come up short and I'm dissatisfied with myself.  I have learned a lot in recent years about myself and I feel like I have finally come up with a plan to teach myself how to really take care of myself and be healthy.  Hopefully losing a little (or a lot) of weight and improving my physical appearance with be nice side effects.  While this picture is great, and it's obvious that we're a happy family, I can't look at it with joy.  I zone in on my bigness and I want that to change.  So, at a correct place on the priority list (with my family coming first), my focus the next year or two is going to be on creating a healthy and strong me!
This picture was taken on the first day of school.  It still makes me smile and laugh.  Brian, standing at attention has been to school enough to know what to expect but still be nervous.  Samantha, starting kindergarten, is so excited, she can't sit still.  Every day I ask Samantha how school was and she says, "Awesome!"  It was immediately obvious that she inherited my love of organized education while Brian inherited Dusty's love of knowledge and learning.  Samantha has had a couple of accidents at school which I was worried about but she and her teacher, Mrs. Clark handled them very well.  I have finally been able to relax about her potty-training and just let it be what it will be.  She loves to ride her scooter or bike to school and while she talks all brave and independent, it means a lot more to her that I drop her off and am there to pick her up than it did to Brian.  She has such a desire to please those around her that I'm finding I have to be quite careful about how I discipline.

 I got a phone call from Brian's teacher on the 2nd day of school and was thinking... not another rough year! but I had a great conversation with Mrs. Parkinson about Brian, his personality and expectations and consequences.  I haven't heard from her again and at parent-teacher conferences, she said he has been doing quite well and seemed positive about increasing his reading skills as well!  I don't in any way think his 1st grade teacher was less skilled, or even less anything but it just goes to show that some kids do better with certain personalities. Brian still fights almost everyday about his reading homework but he is starting to realize that he's not going to get out of it and does surprisingly well when he buckles down!  Brian has shown a significant interest in all things non-fiction.  I saw a video about the camouflage of an octopus on facebook and showed it to Brian one morning before school.  He was so enamored with it, that he decided to write and illustrate a book!  It was all I could do to stay calm and not make a big deal about it.  I was so proud though!

Crazy hair day at school!
I was so worried about my decision to not enroll Nathan in pre-school this year.  He's always been advanced physically for his age but he has 2 years before kindergarten and I didn't feel he needed 2 years of formal pre-school.  But as the start of the year drew closer, he became more and more upset that he didn't get to go to school with Brian and Samantha.  He kept telling me how big and tall he was so he could go to school too.  It got so bad that I had to call Dusty's mom and one of my best friends for reassurance that I was making the right decision.  And sure enough.  After a week or two he settled down and is just fine. He loves to ride his tricycle to take Samantha to school and again to go meet the kids after school.  He has also managed to find plenty of things to keep himself busy while they're gone.  He loves to help mom cook/bake and he is even learning to share a little with Mary Ellen.
 I know everyone says children grow so fast but this little girl has really done that.  She is so different from our other 3 kids and walking at 9 months is just one example of how fast she is growing.  She seems to have this drive to learn things quickly but then gets in over her head sometimes and doesn't know quite what to do.  She mostly sleeps through the night, occasionally needing a little help to find her binky and snuggle back in the covers.  She naps pretty good too and other than the tantrums she has learned already, she is such a joy to be around. I especially enjoy her interactions with Dusty.  She is definitely more of a daddy's girl than Samantha ever was.  She knows how to wave and is learning how to clap.  She only has 5 1/2 teeth but she loves to eat just about anything and does quite well.  She even ate a peanut or two by accident.  The older kids had spilled some on the floor and she got to them before I could.

I made these at our ward's super Saturday activity in October.  Sarah came with me and we had fun.  She and I have also spent quite a few nights scrapbooking this year and I am almost caught up to the end of 2012!  I think I'll work on Dusty's mission scrapbook next before I start 2013.  It feels so nice to be caught up.  I know it's been hard on Sarah to have Geoff and Lacie off on missions but I sure have enjoyed her being around more often!
Despite Dusty's long hours at work, we do find time to go to a pumpkin patch for family night an enjoy other family activities.  He has made a serious effort to spend one-on-one time with each of the kids.  Since Devin moved in, it seems Dusty is much more relaxed and he will rough house with the kids a lot more than he used to.  Maybe that's also because a lot of the stress of school and ROTC is gone too.  We are planning to take 2 weeks to travel to Oklahoma stopping to see Jennifer and Tyler, Dusty's family for Christmas and perhaps even Ben and Darci in San Antonio before Dusty reports January 6th.  As long as we're careful not to add too many extras, our life has a reasonable pace and we make time for the important things.  Now if only I could post more often so they don't get so long!

Disclaimer:  This is a really long post! (I mean really, really, really, 5 pages in Word, long!)

Playing catch up again!  November/December absolutely flew by and here we are in Oklahoma!  We’ve been here for 2 crazy weeks. We’ve had some ups and downs but mostly we’re grateful and still excited to be here!

November brought me cooking Thanksgiving dinner as Mom and Dad were in Texas with Ben and Darci’s family.  I suggested to Sarah that we just order Chinese food but she was appalled at that suggestion!  Hehehe.  It went really well but my it’s a lot of work!  

With December came Mary's birthday!  The big ONE!  She has recently really enjoying putting things in and out of bigger things and trying to carry them around so we decided to get her a purse (which of course we didn't get a picture of).  We had mini cupcakes at home on her actual birthday (Dec. 2) and then celebrated with presents and cupcakes that Aunt Sarah made the following Sunday at Grandma's.  Of course she's been walking for quite a while but she proved her big girl status by climbing onto the kitchen table a few days after her birthday.  She really is learning way to fast! Except for talking.  I think she'd rather just scream and squawk all the time than learn actual words.  hehehe  She has the most beautiful blue eyes and I'm not just bias because other people tell me that too.

In-between birthday parties, company Christmas dinners, and ward parties, I did my first ever craft fair.  I had been hemming and hawing the decision since September but when the ladies organizing the craft fair offered me a discounted booth in exchange for advertising help, I jumped in.  I had been playing around with upcycling/recycling clothing items since September and I really wanted to see if I could sell anything.  I had been doing things like making skirts out of old jeans or t-shirts, super hero capes out of just about anything and lots of projects with scrap material like reusable hand-warmers.   The Craft fair went really well.  I earned back my booth fee plus some and since most of my items were from recycled materials, I didn’t really have any costs!  It was very rewarding to help advertise and organize the craft fair which was also a fundraiser for Journeys (the local center for adults with disabilities).  I even got a few custom orders and won an incredible raffle prize for the kids!

We celebrated our Christmas early having asked our elf “Ruenin”(roo’nin) to take a note to Santa asking him to come early as we wouldn’t be able to take all our presents to Oklahoma (like Brian’s bow and arrows and the blow up castle that mommy won!).  Then we celebrated with Mom and Dad Fillmore, checked the kids out of school, (Samantha actually shed tears when she said goodbye to her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Clark- Awwww) and packed, packed packed!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

At Summer's End

I watched the movie Willow last night with my favorite husband.  I have dragged my feet to watch the movie because I classed it with Lord of the Rings which I also have no desire to ever see.  I don't have any particular gripe about it other than it just appears dark and I've learned that I am quite sensitive to movies.  Well I will admit that I enjoyed Willow and not just because of my snuggle partner.  Although the baby's constant peril ripped at my mother heart strings and I'm super glad I didn't watch it pregnant, I really enjoyed the underdog wins scenario with a "trust in yourself" and "rise above it" moral of the story and don't forget the criminals turned good.  I have a husband who knows me well enough to know what I'll like even when I don't.  However, I did have to check on my kids several times during the night, especially baby Mary just to make sure evil queen Bavarda (or whatever her name was) and her unruly army hadn't snatched my precious Rubies.

Summer is ending with no more broken bones or mishaps (knock on wood). It's been a really low key summer (aka boring) with a few trips to the movies, 1 trip to the splash park, 1 road trip/family reunion, a few visits from relative and lots of playing with friends.  I've actually enjoyed it.  I've been able to get some organizing/deep cleaning done around the house and I've been able to sew and scrapbook which are 2 hobbies I really enjoy but rarely get to do unless you count the occasional mending holes and hemming cut-off shorts.  I recently have started a re-purposing kick making toddler sweatpants out of old sweatshirt sleeves and skirts out of old t-shirts.  It's rewarding and fun even if my house does get quite messy while I zone into the sewing machine.  I'm grateful for this ability and the bigger make a smaller footprint and same money for my family purpose that comes with it.  

Dusty is working as a mechanic with Les Schwab here in Rigby.  He enjoys the work but feels maybe there's not a lot of room to grow and has been looking for other opportunities.  We're going to Oklahoma in January for BOLC, it seems hard to want to switch jobs for only 4 months and then we'll have to see what happens when we get back.  Legally, employers have to hold a position for soldiers when they're deployed or training but in reality, it's difficult to leave and then just try to pick up where you left off.  Live goes on while you're gone and so does business.  Ultimately, we would really love to open our own shop or tow rig but that takes a lot of time and money- both commodities seem to be quite scarce lately.

Brian will start 2nd grade.  He has had an enjoyable summer as long as one of his friends are home to play with.  Horrible is the day when he goes door knocking and comes home without a friend in tow.  While he still has his moments, he is rising to the occasion of more responsibility and independence and most days will help without griping when I ask him (a quality I'm sure he is learning from his Father's amazing example).  He doesn't want to go anywhere without his bike and when his got a flat tire he tried to fix it himself only to find the air compressor was broken.  Not to be defeated, he simply jumped on dad's bike and took off where he wanted to go.  Determination.

Samantha is really excited to start Kindergarten and I worry for the tales she'll tell.  She is so eager to learn to read and while still shy, I think she will make friends easily as she's a little bossy and quite imaginative.  She will be in afternoon kindergarten (at my request) so we'll have less stressful mornings.  She decided to give herself a haircut and we had quite a lot of fixing to do before she felt beautiful again.  It was quite traumatic.

Nathan's favorite movie right now is Old Yeller and he would watch it over and over all day long if I'd let him.  He loves to jump and runs everywhere he goes.  We walked to church the other day and he literally ran the entire way (almost a mile).  Of course he had to stop and wait for us frequently.  He is dying to go to school and keeps telling me how tall and big he is because he's going to school with Brian and Samantha.

Mary turns 9 months next week and she took her first steps yesterday!  Dusty tricked her into thinking he was holding her hands but having her hold on to her blanket, but she did it!  She had a look of total fear and excitement on her face that reminded me of the first time I jumped off a 30 ft cliff into the lake.  She is growing so fast!

I wonder what we should all be for Halloween this year...?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet (and Sour) Summer

I was SO excited for this summer.  I made up a little schedule for me and the kids so we could have plenty of fun but get the work done too.  Well, all I can say is... "life is what happens while making other plans."

The week before Memorial Day and the end of school, Nathan broke his arm.  I wasn't in the room so we're still not exactly sure what happened but he either jumped (and got his feet caught), was pushed, or just fell off Brian's elevated bed landing on his hand and then over onto his back.  He wasn't really crying very hard but definitely favoring his arm.  Luckily, or should I say blessedly, my good friend showed up moments later to pick up her daughter who I'd been tending and offered to take the other kids so I could take him in.  I took the Ipad with us and by the time we saw a Dr. I was ready to just go home because he was so calm but boy am I so glad I went in!

Then, we took an impromtu trip to Arizona to be with Devin in the Temple as he went through for the first time.  It was so neat to be there with all of Dusty's siblings including (I believe) his older brother who passed away when he was young.  It was a really quick trip but so nice to see Dusty's  family and I actually got to hang out with Darra and Daphnie for some excellent girl time!

The next week, while finishing up the lawn/yard work, I was opening a large black garbage bag to go pick up some grass clippings and stepped on an old metal snow shovel that the kids had been playing with.  I fell over and was in a great deal of pain.  Blessedly, it was Dusty's day off.  I sent the kids to get him and he helped me up and after trying several times to put weight on the foot, Dusty just scooped me up like we were newlyweds and carried me to the couch!  Mom came over to stay with the kids and we were back to the Dr. just 2 weeks after Nathan's accident.  The x-ray tech said, "You're supposed to get one bone healed before you break another!"  Well the PA said the x-ray looked shadowy because of the inflammation and to come back in 1 week.  They sent me home in a walking boot and I was still in some pain but at least I could hobble along.  Well a week later with my frequent Dr. visit card in tow, they took another x-ray and confirmed the fracture advising me to go "non weight bearing" for at least 2 weeks.  I said, "I know this sounds bad, but is that really necessary?  I have a 6-month-old baby who weighs 25 lbs."  He assured me that it was and gave me a Rx for crutches.  Well I tried using though crutches- impossible!  I called back and asked that the Dr. look at my x-rays.  They called back the next day and said I would be okay in the walking boot if I was careful.  So for the next 2 weeks, I walked as little as possible.  Mom was super awesome and came over almost every day to help me for a while but when she and Sarah took the kids to the park for Stampede days and Brian ran off- twice- I think she was ready to be done with my family for a while. haha.  So after 2 weeks I went back for another set of x-rays.  The verdict- the bone is healing really well!!!  I have to wear the walking boot for 3 more weeks while out and about but I can start going without it in the house as long as I'm careful!  It couldn't come at a better time because Idaho picked this week to jump the temperatures to the high 90s and that boot is hot!!!

Meanwhile, Nathan figured out how to take his hard cast off and then dunked it in the mud so we got to go back to the Dr. several times for him as well.  Baring any other accidents, we will be able to resume our summer plans!  We've been going to the kids movies (6 of us in for only $1.50!), summer reading program at the library, splash park and meeting up with friends.  Hopefully a trip or 2 to Rigby Lake and at least one to Rexburg Rapids will be perfect for this hot weather!  The kids start swimming lessons next week and then we leave for Colorado to the Fillmore Family Reunion!!!

Brian has been playing with lots of friends and creating lots of mischief (like cutting a hold in the trampoline!) but he is actually rising to the occasion of completing his chores and helping when I ask.  He and Samantha also started taking piano lessons from Grandma Fillmore!

Samantha celebrated her 5th birthday with the requested super hero birthday party theme and received her desired scooter.  Hopefully she'll be able to ride something with Brian to school in the fall.

Nathan will turn 3 next week and I'm dragging my feet with starting potty training.  He'll go sometimes but others refused and I really don't want another 3-4 year-long accident ordeal with him!  I figure we'll wait until we get back from Colorado and then hunker down and get to business.

Mary turns 7 months tomorrow.  She is eating 3 meals a day, usually with the family but still taking bottles inbetween.  She can roll over, sit up (though she's still a little unsteady) and can wiggle to wherever she wants to go.  She kind of looks like an inch worm getting up on her hands and knees and then lurching forward.  hehe.  They're so fun!

Dusty is working over 50 hours/week and is having a hard time dividing his remaining time between his many pursuits.  He is such a wonderful husband and father and always puts us first.  He's working on restoring the 50s Chevy truck putting a diesel motor and new transmission in it.  He's finishing our bathroom remodel and also taking care of a lot of outside things like mowing the lawns that I was helping with before my foot incident.  He still wants to reload and is forever trading/changing guns.  Who knows if he'll ever be satisfied with what he has. hehe.

I did something that I swore I would never do and became a distributor for a direct sales company called It Works!  They sell the crazy wrap thing!  It's a body contouring wrap that tightens, tones and firms your skin reducing the appearance of cellulite.  It's pretty cool but I actually decided to sign up so I could use their supplements at a discount (or hopefully free if I get more team members!).  The supplements are helping with my insulin resistance and if I could get exercising, I can finally lose all this weight I'm tired of carrying around.

Dusty goes to BOLC at Fort Sill, Oklahoma starting the first of January 2014 and some friends int he military clued us in as to how we can go with him.  We will be staying in a 2 bedroom "hotel" room for $7.25/night with maid service and continental breakfast.  It will be quite an adventure but we're excited to be able to stay together!

Friday, May 31, 2013


Dusty Graduated!!!  with a degree in Automotive Technology from BYU-I and also commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army National Guard the same day. (He was super excited to "walk" to get his diploma cover-not hehe)  He got a job working as a mechanic right here in Rigby at Les Schwab and he is loving it!  He will go to Officer's training for almost 5 months starting January 2014 in Oklahoma.  We're not sure if we're going with him or staying here.

Melanie is keeping busy running after 4 kids and whoever else happens to be at our house (it seems there are always extras). She also jogged/walked a 5k race the end of April.  The kids did the kids' race and had a blast!  Brian and Samantha started playing on a "homemade soccer team".  A bunch of us get together once a week and have the kids draw a marble to see if they're on the blue team or the red team, parents take turns coaching and we just play.  a game for the younger kids and a game for the older kids.  It's so fun and the best part is that it's free!

Brian finishes 1st grade today!  He is becoming quite a good little reader and a whiz at math. He is excited for the extra playtime summer will offer.  His class put on a little show for the parents with songs and a showcase of all their projects.  He and his friends have recently been playing super heros with stick swords and trash can shields (why do we spend money on toys?!?)

Samantha "graduated" from preschool and is excited to start kindergarten in the fall.  She still loves to sing and imaginative play.  She's also trying to master a 2-wheel bike so she can ride to school like Brian.  I am amazed at her persistence to keep trying!

Nathan broke his arm last Monday jumping/falling off Brian's bed (it's a built-in bed about 4 ft off the ground).  He has since taken his cast (yes the hard cast) off 3 times!  He keeps telling me, "it's better now!" trying to convince me he doesn't need it on anymore.  You wouldn't know it was broken the way he just keeps playing!  What a tough kid!

Mary is just growing more and more round.  Everyone she meets comments on what a chubby and happy baby she is.  She can definitely make her opinions known but most of the time she is all smiles.  She's rolling over and starting to scoot backwards across the room.  She'll be 6 months next week.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Faith in the Basics

This weekend was General Conference. I always really look forward to General Conference and the hope it brings.  I heard several speakers talk about how bad the world is in terms of morality and social ills but all of them also said that we, who are on the Lord's side, and our kids, will come out on top if we just stick to the basics.  Usually I approach general conference with a lot of prayer and specific questions or concerns so I'm more ready to receive the personal revelation about what I can do to improve myself, my life and our family. However, it seems that lately someone is always hitting fast forward and I find myself lucky to get a shower, let alone time to meditate and I approached conference this year a little disappointed in myself, having only said a quick prayer here or there this week in preparation.

Leave it to the Lord to bless even our smallest efforts!  Even though Dusty was at drill all weekend and my children were.... well children making it hard to pay attention, I was able to watch all 4 sessions of conference.  While getting kids snacks, feeding Mary, kissing owies, breaking up sibling fights, and doing all that other stuff moms do all day long, I was able to catch just the right snippets I needed.
 (I don't know who said what because it was pretty much impossible to take any kind of notes but this is what I gleaned)
#1 Being a mother is THE most important thing I will do- ever.
#2 My marriage is so good because I'm doing the little, daily things that make the biggest difference.
#3 I need to speak to my children in a "mild" voice.
#4 My faith- no matter where it is- is enough!  I need to start with what I have and ask for help if I need more.

I hope it is a positive sign that I found more hope and more, "Hey, I'm already doing that!" this conference.  It may not always seem like it on a day to day basis and I still am afraid I end more days with a frown than a smile but I am on the right track and that feels wonderful!

And... since I didn't blog last month, here's a little update.

Mary is now 4 months old.  She loves to talk and giggle and smile but when she wants something, boy does she let you know!
Nathan had a tonsillectomy after his 3rd bout of strep throat in 4 months (which was also accompanied by RSV and influenza!).  His recovery was super great and fast until he caught bronchitis.  Poor boy, but he was such a trooper.
Samantha is officially registered for Kindergarten in the fall and she is so excited!  (princess self-portrait with her own camera)
Brian celebrated his 7th birthday! ( made him this robe)
Melanie is working hard to lose weight and prepare for a 5k later this month.
Dusty has been busy with research papers and projects and labs and finals and will graduate next week!!!