January and now February have practically flown by, despite being quite challenging months. We had a lot going on! Which is why I didn’t post much; I just was too wiped out by the time Sundays rolled around. We were in a bit of a survival mode. In January, for family night one week, we talked about keeping a record of our family history and the value of it. All of the scriptures came from someone keeping a record of their family history! What power in that idea! I brought out all the family photo books I have made since marrying Andy and had the kids look at them. After a bit of explanation about family history and the importance of keeping a record, Andy interjected. He reminded me that these weekly (sometimes monthly) blog posts can also be a bit of a family history. So here is a quick attempt to catch up!

We first celebrated Maverick’s birthday on the 20th at Red Robin (his favorite restaurant). Then again on Friday–his actual birthday by sending cupcakes to his classroom. He came home without any (despite there being extras) so I had to make a small batch of cupcakes so the other kids in our household could celebrate with him, but his big celebration wasn’t until the following Saturday where 14 kids ran rabid in our house. He had his best friend from school–James David, friends from church, a friend from his preschool class last year, and neighborhood kids. It was fun, but pure madness for the two and a half hours it lasted. I should’ve gone with my initial gut to keep it to two hours– that would’ve been plenty.

Despite us having three different days of celebrating Maverick, I felt a little bad pushing back his birthday party a week after it due to a number of reasons. First and foremost, there was a huge COVID spike in our area. Nearly every family in our ward had COVID or was exposed to COVID. They were right in the middle or nearing the end of their quarantine so I knew that a week away, though soon, would be enough time to get over this surge, at least when it pertained to his friends’ list. The second reason was Andy’s schedule Mav’s birthday weekend. He was on a string of shifts and even had to work Saturday, but not till the evening. But I thought with how exhausting kids’ birthday parties could be, I probably shouldn’t try to cram all that into our morning right before Andy headed back to work. The last reason was I was exhausted on Mav’s actual birthday. Andy and I had been preparing all week (whenever he was home and by myself when he wasn’t) for his birthday present from his parents. Earlier in the week we had received Andy’s birthday present from me. It was quite the ordeal. The Monday before we were at Costco just doing our normal shopping (Andy likes to go to Costco with me, so I always save that for a day when he has swing shift). I saw this gorgeous “gentleman’s chest” and asked Andy if I could buy that for him with some of the money I got from my Clyde dividends for his birthday present. He wasn’t sure he deserved it though I told him that was definitely not true and convinced him to go back the next day to buy it. I received a phone call while he was there and I could tell that things were not going according to plan so he came home without it (there was no way he could lift it on his own, but he also couldn’t even fit it in our car). So, I made the purchase on the Costco website and paid for them to deliver it to us (worth every penny). A week later, two burly men showed up at my door and after hauling it up the first five steps they stopped. “Ma’am, it ain’t getting up there.” After our whole ordeal the last week I didn’t accept that for an answer. I ripped off the banister and they squeezed it up the stairway huffing and puffing. Don’t worry, I tipped them- despite there being huge scratches on one side of the chest. I didn’t want to have to deal with getting it back to Costco so I asked Costco if they’d give me a discount. They reimbursed me $100, which will be plenty to try and fix it myself. It is gorgeous even with the scratches and we needed it because Harvey had outgrown his tiny cubicle storage system and was getting bumped out of our closet. I gave Harvey my Ikea dresser and put it in the boy’s closet, but then when Andy and I discussed how horrible it was getting that dresser up the stairs we both agreed that the office furniture– which was also supposed to go upstairs– by us– was not a good plan. I had been feeling the guest bedroom downstairs was a bit of a wasted space for our family. We don’t get many visitors as it is and the kids were feeling a bit overcrowded in the two bedrooms they shared (as far as sleeping– they all piled into the bunk bed, but their toys were spread between the two rooms). Andy and I decided to move the office downstairs and let Max have his own bedroom upstairs. It has made a huge difference! And while it saved us quite a headache when the office furniture showed up, it still wasn’t easy hauling Andy’s old craig’s list executive desk downstairs, arranging my art stuff in our room, and putting the guest queen upstairs. I also want to add that though we don’t have a guest bedroom, Max is happy to give his room up while we have guests, so please don’t use that as an excuse to not visit us, we’d love to see any of you!

Ever since this change I’ve felt a huge relief from the clutter that would accumulate from my children. They needed that extra space, and even more so, I needed them to have it. Plus, we didn’t have to haul office furniture upstairs, so win/win (honestly after receiving the office furniture, I’m pretty sure we would’ve realized there was no way it could go upstairs and we would’ve been scrambling to rearrange our house while Andy’s parents were here, so I’m really glad we came to our senses before they got here. I think Andy really enjoyed his birthday with his parents here. We got to play card games and watch shows, eat out/takeout. It was all of his favorite things. Plus he had frontloaded his schedule at the beginning of January so he could have a four-day weekend to be with his parents when they came. It made for a stressful beginning of January, but it was worth it.

Beverly and Afton have been spending and a great deal of time together lately, so much so they act like sisters. They have really good days and really hard days together, but most of the time it is a good mixture of the two. A lot of times they will play together after the boys get on the bus, before we have to head out for errands, the gym, or preschool, but they usually get back together in the afternoon. Having the Durrants next-door has been an answered prayer time and time again. In Houston I prayed for a family to be friends with where I would feel comfortable asking for help, and it would be possible for me to reciprocate. We have definitely found this with the Durrants. Time and time again they have had my back and vice versa. And even more than that, we love hanging out with them. I see them every day and Lindsay and I still have stuff to talk about and even find ourselves texting throughout the day. I thank Heavenly Father for answering that prayer.

One of the other reasons January and February have been survival mode for me is due to our darling Harvey. This child has insomnia most nights. He wakes up at 1,2,3,4,5 in the morning sometimes. I initially caught him doing precarious things such as standing on top of our keyboard piano at 3 in the morning, flipping the light switch on and off. Then another Friday night at 2 AM he woke up Mav. Our kids are allowed screen time Saturday mornings so that I can hopefully get a little more sleep, so Maverick thought it was morning and just whipped out his switch and started gaming. When I heard Harvey walking around I got up and found Mav playing.

“Mav, what are you doing?”

“Isn’t it morning?”

“Uh, no. Go back to bed.”

Luckily the other kids understand nighttime is for sleeping so Harvey’s insomnia, though he wakes them up, they go back to bed.

I knew we had to make some safety changes when I found him on our front doorstep at 5:45 in the morning. The thing is, he learned how to climb out of his crib, open doorknobs (even with the childproof knob covers) and open any child safety lock (including pill bottles) all at the same time. I think this has contributed to his insomnia because he can’t seem to settle down his mind at night. I am sure his intelligence will serve him well in life, but for now it is exhausting. We have resorted to putting an extra lock higher on our front door and trying various means with his own door to keep him from wondering the house at night. Last night, I found him trying to take his dog potty at 3 in the morning. His dog doesn’t sleep with him, so he must’ve pulled her out of one of the other kids’ rooms. Pray for us. LOL. Oh, to have another full night of sleep without worrying about Harvey getting into something. His intelligence combined with his mischievous nature has cost us lots of sleep and money. This kid has destroyed a few electronic devices, Maverick’s brand-new bookshelf stands and other things. With all that being said, I have to say I love this kid (I have to. To remind myself, and to log in our family history that there is a reason I haven’t gone mad yet… or maybe I have… no one knows). He is so cute. Loves his mommy, and despite having hitting problems in preschool, he has won over the hearts of his teachers.

“Harvey had another rough day today.”

“Harvey, did you hit your friends? That isn’t nice.”

His teachers replied, “Oh, I don’t think he was trying to be mean; he just wanted his space.”

I thought it was adorable that they came to his defense. We are working with him, but not much is helping. I have been focusing on teaching the older kids (who are a lot more teachable) to be respectful of his space, because I’m pretty sure when they’re dragging him around despite his protests that he is just finally able to be in control of his own space when it’s smaller kids around him.

I bore my testimony twice this year. I don’t think I got that opportunity at church the last two years, so I guess I’m making up for lost time. The first one was because I felt a sense of gratitude for the help the Lord has given me over the past year to overcome some natural parts of myself that have caused me a lot of pain. The second time was due to a “testimony” that had been shared at the beginning of the meeting, but the subject had also been weighing on my mind a lot lately with a lot of people leaving the church and picking and choosing what counsel from the prophet that they want to follow. I am by no means perfect, but this much I know, God works through his prophets. He always has and always will, so if I can listen to the prophets and heed their counsel then I can have the peace that it will draw me nearer to my Father in Heaven, despite the imperfection of these good men. I know Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect, but I also know that he was the chosen mouthpiece for that day. I shared that on my mission, there was a time where we were covering three wards due to an emergent situation with the elders that covered one of those wards. When transfers came, we lost our old family ward and kept the new one, but we didn’t move apartments. Some of our investigators lived in that same complex so we still got to see them as we were coming and going. After about three weeks into the transfer, I asked one of our investigators if they had met the new Elders. They said they hadn’t, but that brother so and so from the ward had been by to introduce themselves. I had really been struggling before because I knew these Elders weren’t doing much. They were at the end of their missions, and you could tell they were ready to go home. But when the investigator told us that a brother from the ward had been by. I knew God’s plan was better than my own. Getting the ward involved in missionary work was like pulling teeth. But by taking away missionaries who did all the work for them, they were left to step it up and they did. I was so grateful they had stepped up and I followed the progress of that area and all of the investigators that we had so painstakingly found and taught were eventually baptized. In my testimony I shared that sometimes we don’t always know God’s plan for something, but that even in our imperfections and weaknesses, great things can happen. I know that even though Joseph Smith was an imperfect man and probably even President Nelson, though he’s had a lifetime to work on himself, that these are men who are the mouthpiece for God and that even in their weaknesses, God can bring forth his work– maybe sometimes even BECAUSE of their weaknesses.

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