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!