I’ll admit, family photos was painful. Harvey was in a mood–probably due to daylight savings still messing with his inner clock. He’s been up around 4:30/5:30 every day since then. It makes for a cranky kid which makes a cranky mom. This morning he woke up at 5:30 and proceeded to whine at my door till I finally picked him up and forced him to fall back asleep. He slept till 9. So it is clear he definitely needed more sleep. Anyway, back to the family photo session. Our photographer had two available dates. Andy was working one, and according to our calendar, he wasn’t working the other one. So I scheduled it for November 12th. Well I apparently Andy and I had told Doctor’s hospital that he was available on the 12th, but hadn’t written their schedule yet, therefore it wasn’t on our calendar yet so if it isn’t on my hand held brain it isn’t a reality. And bam we were double scheduled. Our photographer, Stephanie Secrist, was super accommodating and bumped us up to 2 PM (Andy had to work at 4). So Harvey was grumpy, Mav was super emotional for some reason and my hair was everywhere. Mav also ended up with a bloody nose when the photographer told us to tickle him. I’m like goodness… why are my kids sooo rough. So she had to edit out the bloody nose. My hair… well it’s still every where. Cost of curly hair living in the south I guess. But, hey– she captured the reality of our family. The first set of pictures are my favorites that she took. The ones below are “behind the scenes” and really good evidence that its a miracle she found any good pictures.

My sister, Crista, sent us a code for some free meal kits. We made some delicious meals Tuesday-Thursday. I will say that I don’t feel it saved me much time. It’s basically like having groceries delivered to your home. So it does save a trip to the grocery store, and planning which recipe I’m going to use and what ingredients I need, but the cooking time itself was pretty standard. Max thought it seemed really cool though, and the printed recipe helped make it easy for him to help. I taught him how to cut veggies, mince garlic, zest a lime, and cook meat. He did a great job and it was actually a lot of fun to teach him. The other kids were jealous that he got to help and they didn’t so I told them, “I have three meal kits, you can each take a turn.” Wednesday night was Beverly’s night. Maverick was quite upset that it wasn’t oldest to youngest and didn’t seem to understand that because Beverly asked to help first that she was next in line. Well, Beverly absolutely adores Maverick and seeing him bawl (insert eye roll), she told him he could help. I should’ve put my foot down and told him his day was tomorrow, but I also wanted to encourage the kind behavior Beverly displayed. They mostly got along and helped out and it tasted delicious and it was a good evening. The last night, which was supposed to be Maverick’s night was not so fun. Harvey was in a mood (example: screaming, whaling, gnashing of teeth), we had Max’s 4th grade concert to go to, and since Maverick had helped on Beverly’s night, it was only fair that she helped on Maverick’s night, but Maverick didn’t feel quite the same. When I explained that he got to help with her night he agreed she could help, but “only a a little” so cooking turned into refereeing and took a lot more patience that I have. Andy was on swing shift pretty much Saturday-Friday so I was pretty worn out too. I can do pre-school chaos and even bedtime pretty good without his help, but dinner time is always high stress. I’m usually juggling homework, sports, making dinner, and dealing with Harvey’s no-nap exhaustion or post-nap orreries (it’s a lose lose with this one). So I’m pretty high- strung by the end of the night. I’m working on managing my stress, but it isn’t easy.

To prevent this blog post from being a total downer, let me tell you that it was indeed fun and fulfilling to teach Max how to cook. We also learned from some of our mistakes, and Andy and I told the kids if they were going to help with dinner it was one kid at a time, and if fits were thrown, then they lost their turn till the next go-around. I think I’ll continue to let the kids “help” but once a week and only one kid…. especially when Andy’s on swing. I wish my patience was endless, but I’m not there yet.

We ended the week on a good note with celebrating Beverly’s birthday with her friends. She invited a few girls from our neighborhood who also happen to be in our ward, Millie Wood and her sister, and some twins from our ward. It was a houseful! We had Princess Aurora show up. She read to them, sang songs and danced with them, and then awarded Beverly a tiara and had her promise to “always be kind, always be brave, and always be strong.” Beverly was over the moon about Aurora coming to HER birthday party! Grandma Jackson mailed some sugar cookies, including paint pallets with blanks cookies so the girls could paint their very own sugar cookies. This was probably their favorite activity. They also got to get their OWN lipstick and “kiss the frog,” get their picture taken and decorate it, and of course get pizza, cake and ice cream. So when Beverly threw up later that night, my hope was that it was due to the copious amounts of cookies, cake, and pizza that made her sick, but I too had tummy troubles later that evening, so it’s hard to know. Though I did have a small piece of cake and a piece of pizza as well. We’re all doing better this morning (I hope and pray) but we didn’t attend church so we could keep our sickness to ourselves… again… with four little kids I feel like I miss a lot of church in the fall. I actually really enjoy going to church. I leave feeling full of purpose, renewal, and recommitment to my personal and spiritual goals. It also keeps me connected to the community around me so I can find ways to serve and connect. Oh well, there’s hopefully next week.

As Thanksgiving is coming up this week, I’d be remiss to not take a moment to express my gratitude. I have truly so much to be grateful for. Aside from just the comforts I have, that I know many others are struggling to get, especially in this inflation, I am grateful for my testimony in my Savior, the joy my kids bring me as they progress and learn. Max and I studied for FOUR assessments Tuesday evening and he aced all of them! I was so proud of him. We worked so hard and he has been working so hard towards catching up with his reading. His speech delay as a baby really put him back, but he is almost there. He is such a smart kid. He asks questions about things I’ve never even wondered before. I am grateful for Beverly. She seems to know how to call me to repentance in the kindest way. After getting after them for making such big messes and never picking up after themselves, she said, “mama, I love you.” While they still need to pick up after themselves, it is for sure true that I could be a little more patient and instructing and a little slower to anger. I am grateful for Maverick. Today I asked him for something and he said, “Sure mama!” I said, “Why thank you for being so willing!” and he replied, “I’m in a good mood today.” Truly, it is easier to serve and help others when you’re already in a good mood, but I love his candor. I’m grateful for routine. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but a routine really helps me to focus and get all the things done that I need to. I am grateful for access to a gym and child care so I can take better care of my body. I’m grateful for the progress I have made on building a stronger, healthier me. I have so much to be grateful for and I hope you do to. Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for all of you!

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