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Friday, October 17, 2014

A gust o' August-o


Jack turned 2 years and 7 months at the beginning of August, which isn't particularly relevant other than the fact that I keep track of our progress towards his third birthday in hopes that my wild child will simma down a little. LUCKILY, in addition to being all sorts of naughty, he is also all sorts of hilarious:
 That BSU hat was set on his head mid-summer and he rarely leaves the house without it. He's accepted that he can't wear it into the church building, but for pretty much every other outing it's donned. For a while he also wore one of the other boys' t-ball medals everywhere. I also like the efficiency of pouring water from his water bottle into a pitcher and drinking out of that. The bottom left is his typing, which includes his name, Will's, Dad's, and part of Clyde's :). OH, and I kindly cropped out the nursing baby, but please enjoy the fact that Jack frequently feels the need to snuggle while I feed Carma. I keep trying to remind myself that someday I'll have personal space...

We didn't venture out into the great outdoors much... at all... this summer (well, Chuck did - hikes, Scout camp, etc, which will be a post someday...) BUT we did makes s'mores one night and the area around our fire pit does look like a jungle, soooo I feel like that's close enough.
August = the return of football. Chuck celebrates by readying his fantasy football teams and watching lots of games. I celebrate by dressing my poor kids in BSU colors for church the Sunday before the opening game. Jack was less than enthusiastic about posing for a picture.

 The stars aligned and Carma and Jayna were able to meet in early August and the bond was immediate.
 
 By lucky happenstance, Jayna's amazing mom was there too and got to snuggle Carma - and gifted her this beautiful blanket! Thanks Sherry!!

 One time I actually went to Gospel Doctrine instead of seeing to my hallway monitor duties, and I ended up half volunteering to substitute for a future lesson. Good news - the lesson was on temple attendance, which I love and am actually pretty good at (whew, good thing the lesson wasn't on humility...). Bad news - we're studying the Old Testament, which = names than are seemingly harder to pronounce than the rest of the standard works. Good news - when some very nice Bible thumpers stopped by that week, I was able to reference my current study of 2nd Chronicles as we briefly chatted :).
 
 Chuck had to work that Sunday, but this was the adorable text that he sent me to see how the lesson went. And if it's not his favorite that I publicize adorable texts that he sends me (this one may have gone on instagram and facebook...), then mayyyybe he shouldn't send them to me anymore! (JUST KIDDING HONEY, PLEASE KEEP SENDING THEM!!).

 We spent lots and lots of time with Grandma Pam in August, to prepare ourselves for her departure back to Hansen for the start of the school year.
 Including celebrating her 60th birthday!!! We bravely took all four kids out to lunch.

And of course I got to give her the special book I had compiled of birthday wishes from family and friends:
 Thank you very much to everyone to put up with my constant facebook pleadings and to those who contributed - she cried, so I'd say it was a success! :)


 Just a random picture of this beautiful baby! I love snuggling babies right after they finish eating.

Sometimes I take pictures of me and Carma and our matching double chins :).
 
 Jack thought Carma needed some little buddies to nap with....

Carma is the cutest little inchworm ever, so one night I took pictures of her progress around the blanket. It starts in the lower left corner and then spirals around clockwise and ends in the middle - completely off the blanket and facing almost the opposite direction. Of course, it took almost a half hour to get there!
And lest you think the poor little girl is always mostly nekkid, here she is all dressed including SHOES! So cute right? Too bad they were still kind of too big on her, haha.

The last weekend in August was crazy busy; Chuck's parents came up for his Wood Badge beading (more on that later, too). Saturday morning was the last push to pick all the peaches at the church orchard, so we headed out there for a few hours of service! (the best kind of service - where you get to hang out with friends at the same time!) I was really proud of Clyde, he strapped on a bucket and really stepped up to help.
And that afternoon we rounded up lots of grandparents (Chuck's mom and dad and my mom) and headed to the zoo. It definitely made for a long day, but the kids had so much fun and we filled our zoo quotient for the year, hooray!

Okay, and that was pretty much August! Guys, if I continue at this rate I'll blog about December before it even gets here...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

School so far


Once upon a time two months ago Clyde and Will started school! Clyde is in third grade with Miss Wiltrout and Will is in first grade with Miss Overcast and both teachers are highly qualified and excellent and perfect for each boy.
Here are some 'first day' pics - which actually fell on the second day that school was in session. Jack was not thrilled when his brothers hopped out of the van and he was left with his mom and sister. Carma and I tried not to be offended, haha.

Aaand a few random pictures from the first weeks of school. Both boys are doing well and I'm able to be in each of their classrooms once a week (ish) which I love. Clyde and I were both very proud of his lego depiction of a suburban area (the bottom right is a park, the upper left is a school, hence the flag on top). Will comes home every day eager to teach me about blending and monkey/gorilla/alligator(?) letters and the bathroom 'washing hands' rules (ie how many squirts of soap and how many pumps of the paper towel dispenser) and who didn't follow the bathroom 'washing hands' rules that day :). I feel like Will's future career path might lead him to be some sort of compliance officer... 

Speaking of Will, he loves doing his homework. One particular week he needed to use adjectives in three sentences and he drew inspiration from all around him - the paper, the fun neat oversized pen he was using, his little brother:
And then it's possible that Chuck and I died laughing...

Oh, and the boys had their jog-a-thon last week, which raises money for end-of-the-year field trips. 
(We're awesome and haven't turned in their folders yet if anyone would like to contribute!) 
 Clyde ignored us at all costs, Will welcomed me running with him for three laps until I almost passed out (there's a chance I'm "out" of "shape") and Jack and Carma chillaxed on the side, as is the lot of younger siblings.

Yay school!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My testimony = an orange daylily


Hi team! Imma let me finish... aka get back to long-winded, rambly, photo-filled, much overdue recaps of the last few months soon... but first it's about to get real a) religious and b) horticultural around here.


Intriguing, eh? 

I've been doing a lot of pondering lately and among my many epiphanies and realizations was that when I envision my grandchildren and great-grandchildren spending hours pouring over my blog books in distant years, I want them to learn more about our life than just the detailed rundowns of our activities and such. Let me be clear: they will love the detailed rundowns. My posterity will cherish knowing which of my friends made it to girls' night each month and what I wore to church each Sunday and what TV show I watched obsessively until the next season when it went off the rails and got weird/dirty/awkward/sad/ridiculous/unfunny (which basically happens to every TV show I love. I'd list the examples, but it's too embarrassing that I ever watched some of them...).

But I also want my grandchildren and great grandchildren and such (especially the ones named after me; I expect there to be dozens of 'jana' and 'marie' namesakes scattered amongst them) to know what was absolutely of the greatest importance to me, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so, expect in the future more posts of a religious nature to be sprinkled in amongst the lighter fare. Starting with this one, about an incredible epiphany I had recently:

My testimony [of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, etc] is a daylily.
Here's what you need to know about daylilies: They are the only flower in my garden that I haven't killed (either accidentally or on purpose) in the last six years. When we bought our house, there were two large flower gardens in the front yard. Very pretty and colorful and very soon, neglected. I'm not super into flowers. I don't get any deep satisfaction from cultivating them and taking care of them and gazing upon them, especially when the process takes a lot of work and/or money. 

But I LOVE my daylilies. I think they're beautiful, especially in orange, my favorite color. They started out occupying a small area and over the years we've (I'm using the royal 'we'; it's actually been Nicole and my mom and Chuck, haha) split them and transplanted them and now they span the entire garden in front of the playroom window and around the corner, as well as an area in the backyard along the fence.

Here's why my daylilies have survived: according to a university gardening website, "Daylilies are rugged, adaptable, vigorous perennials that endure in a garden for many years with little or no care. Daylilies adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions. They establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little or no injury."

Adaptable, vigorous, enduring with little to no care? BEST FLOWER EVER.

So, this leads me back to my earlier epiphany/metaphor/seminary devotional: My testimony - my knowledge that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is their restored church on the earth today, led by a modern-day prophet who is the Lord's mouthpiece on the earth -  is a daylily. I had a really, really, difficult conversation earlier this summer with someone I just really, really love and it gave me cause to spend a lot of time thinking about my religious beliefs and my testimony. It didn't give me cause to doubt or question my beliefs or testimony at all, just cause to think about my relationship with my testimony - how I treat it, how I handle it, how I care for it. And the resulting realizations were sobering. Just like my vigorous, enduring with little care daylilies, I have taken my testimony very much for granted. I know that it will always be there and endure through anything, so I've let it. I've relied on it and taught from it and used is as a means of protection and comfort and let it protect me from the whirlwinds. 

I took this picture earlier in the summer for an instagram photo challenge, captioning it with something about how I hate weeding, so in my garden the flowers just grow alongside the weeds.

A few weeks later, I looked more closely at my daylilies. They were there and enduring and as beautiful as ever, but a line of ridiculously prickly weeds close to the house were blocking the sprinklers right there. I had noticed it earlier and ignored it, but finally one day I went out and spent an hour in the dirt, pulling as many of the weeds as I could. I didn't get them all (weeding is pretty tiring, yo) but I got a lot and it was gratifying to see the daylilies actually get, you know, watered in the days to come. [full disclaimer: a bunch of the weeds have grown back. I should probably get on that...]

So, back to my testimony. If you look at the picture of the daylily next to the weed, you might not know how much I love that flower. I'm sure people that visit my home or drive past it look at the apparent neglect and assume that the daylilies aren't important to me. And it's incredibly sobering to think that I might be giving off that some impression in regards to my testimony - not just to passersby or associates, but to my children. I want my family to see that my knowledge that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father is central to my life. That the Atonement of Jesus Christ gives me hope in all situations and difficulties and sadness. That my eternal marriage, sealed in a Holy Temple of God, centers me and gives me perspective. That my understanding of the Plan of Happiness and the goal to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus and my family forever and ever is my motivation to try harder and harder to make right choices.

For so long I've loved and appreciated my testimony but failed to truly cherish it. I've known it would always be there, but I haven't given it the priority and precedence and place of honor in my life that it deserves. Will it stay alive if I continue on as I have? Yes. The daylilies will come back every year and survive on water (somewhat blocked by weeds), sun (kinda blocked by our tree), and dirt (kinda corrupted by weeds). And what's amazing is that the daylilies will be strong enough to be split and transplanted and shared and still grow tall and beautiful. My testimony will continue to survive on very diligent church attendance and mostly diligent temple attendance and weekly/daily family home evening/prayers/scripture study and personal prayer most of the time and personal scripture study when I remember. It will even be strong enough to get me through moments of weakness and difficult times and it will be strong enough to share with others and to draw from as I teach and raise my children. BUT I'm no longer satisfied with that. I don't want to just use and abuse my testimony; I want to nurture it. I want to strengthen it and reinforce it as much as possible. I want to shield it from untruths and neglect, so that it's always ready to be my shield.

So, in that spirit, my plan is to record more spiritual things in my life - notes from General Conference, quotes and scriptures I find while preparing lessons (for my new calling! Sunday School teacher for the 15 and 16 year olds! I love them! they tolerate me!), tender mercies I find in my life. Our family has a new goal since Conference of personal prayer every morning - we check in at breakfast so that those of us who forgot (cough, me, cough) can sneak back in our rooms and take care of it :). When it comes to my natural tendency towards cynicism, I'm going to pull a Taylor Swift and shake it off (Jack and I recommend doing the arms in the air, jazz hands routine when listening to that song...) and instead approach church and talks and lessons with a softer heart.

 So pretty, right??

Okay, long rambly religious post over! Props if you made it through. No worries if you scrolled to the bottom to see how long it was, read this, and bounced :).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

JULY!


This is Carma saying "Seriously Mom? You expect people to care about July three months later?"
so glad I can embarrass her even at such a young age :)

Okay, a lot of July was already covered - the weekend of the 4th, Courtney's visit, etc, so now here's everything else from the month, starting with girls' night:
Emily and Nicole were noticeably absent, but Paulina's sister-in-law Shantel came and kept us entertained/horrified/enthralled by the story of her recent motorcycle crash and recovery. Girl is tough.
And these pictures just kill me... hahahaha.

Carma got to meet and snuggle with two of her second cousins, Kara and Rachel :).

Our big Relief Society activity in July was a clothing share and swap and it was fantastic/exhausting/hilarious/labor-intensive/gratifying/humbling/fun and so on. We invite the community (via craigslist and fliers distributed to as many homes as possible in our neighborhoods) and have drop-off times on Friday morning and evening, and then the actual swap was on Saturday morning and afternoon:
Sooooooooo many clothes. And people. And hours of walking around and greeting people and refolding clothes, haha. It really was a great experience - I love seeing people come in and be so amazed that it's all free and be so thankful.

And here's some of the clean-up crew:
Love all the helpers, especially sweet Canon! He was a superstar all day!!

And to reinforce the bit about how tiring it all ways, here is a super attractive picture of my nap the next day after church:

Carma stayed asleep longer than I did...

Grandma Pam came over one day looking extra nice, so I corralled the boys for a group shot. It went suuuper well:
 We're calling this one a win.

 Oh, here's a picture of me with my handsome, clean-shaven-for-the-first-time-since-early-May husband:
And the story: remember how Chuck had a beard? Well, one Saturday night I made a Walmart run and while I was gone Chuck shaved. And it took me another 14 hours to notice, haha. I didn't notice when I got home... or the next morning when he made me breakfast... or when he said good-bye on his way out the door to his before-church meeting... or when I showed up at church. But boy did I do an awesome double-take halfway through sacrament meeting!!  

 Random after church picture of my boys:
 
 Oh, one day we had to get an oil change... like, we really had to; Chuck was leaving with the van for Scout camp late Sunday night and I had forgotten about it until the day before. I would not really highly recommend taking four kids to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon for an oil change buuuuut thanks to at least an hour in the lego aisle and an exciting game of hide and seek tag [that I was SO sure would end in a serious injury] amongst all the tires, we all made it out alive.

 This picture just makes me laugh; Jack is highly attentive and decided to line some things up for Carma while she slept:
 Oh yeah, have I mentioned Carma's hemangiomas? [proud parenting moment: it only took me two tries to spell that right] She has that small one on her back and then a bigger one on her tummy.

 Ahh, another sleeping child picture... they might be my favorite thing, haha:
 Clyde spent July reading Percy Jackson books like a crazy man and hoping that Chuck and I would sit him down at some point to break the news that ours was in fact a Greek God-mortal marriage and that he would soon be installed as a resident at Camp Half-blood.

 Sometimes I glance in the back of the van (such as this moment getting ready to leave speech one morning) and I can't believe there are four small(ish) beings that I'm responsible for. ..
 And depending on the day/hour/minute, that thought is either so, so happy or so, so terrifying... well that's a lie, it's usually both :).

 Sometimes I lie down on the couch with a sleeping baby and arch my eyebrow and take artistically-fuzzy selfies:
 Can I just say how much better I look artistically-fuzzy?? Not that I think I look bad normally (I have probably a higher self-esteem than is actually warranted), but I feel like my skin looks particularly amazing when pixelated...

 Chuck was the gone the last week of July at Scout Camp but thanks to his cell phone and wi-fi, we were able to text a lot, which I obviously think is totally cheating (they're in the great outdoors! the internet should be non-accessible!) but I went along with, sending him all these pictures while he was gone:
 Including pictures of the kids reading the letters he mailed them!

Okay, and finally, here's a video from mid-July of Jackers spelling all of our names because he's a nut:

 And that's I think it for July. Hold on tight, I'll probably get 'round to August sometime soon! ...maybe...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How we spent our summer vacation:

Hanging out in waiting rooms!

 Seriously. This was the summer of appointments and my poor kids were such troopers! Our insurance period runs the fiscal year, aka October - September. Thanks to things like staples in Clyde's head last October, treatments for Clyde's Hirschsprung's, and you know, having a baby, we met our family out-of-pocket-maximum in May - meaning that aside from office appointment co-pays, all medical procedures and surgeries and therapies were freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. So you better believe that Chuck and I took a long look at our kids and each other and started dialin' up doctor's offices for all sorts of fun :).
We probably spent the most time at speech therapy. Jack was screened at the end of May and did therapy once a week all summer, ending yesterday. We are thrilled with his progress - he went from speaking very, very little to speaking a LOT... although still with some slight enunciation and pronunciation problems, haha. My favorite is exchanging 'L' sounds for 'Y' sounds, like when he tells me he yoves me or asks to sit on my yap :). We ended up putting both older boys in speech as well to work on their tongue thrust issues.

We'd been a bit worried about Will's congested-sounding voice for a while, so off he went to the ENT in July for a closer look at his adenoids. Sure enough, there was a significant blockage up there.
 Chuck was at the appointment with him, so these were the pictures I got at home - Will was thrilled to be the center of attention and check out all of the equipment and informational posters :). 

In a stroke of genius/paternal instinct, Chuck made an appt for Clyde to see the ENT as well and even went so far as to schedule an adenoid-removal surgery for Clyde the same day as Will's, with the plan to cancel if it didn't end up being necessary. Alas, a look up Clyde's nose/mouth revealed a serious issue there as well!

So, a Friday in mid-August found two little Izatt boys donning cute little hospital gowns for surgery! Funny story: Clyde and Will were across the way from each other in pre-op and Chuck and I talked back and forth and such. When the anesthesiologist came to check Will and talk to Chuck, I naturally followed the conversation from my seat in Clyde's little room, even smiling and nodding when he commented on how smart Will was. The anesthesiologist saw me and gave me kind of a funny look, and I realized he probably thought I was just some random lady creepily watching his interaction with a patient!
Sure enough, when the nurses sent him over to Clyde a few minutes later and referenced that these two boys were brothers, he said, "Ohhh, that makes more sense; I wondered why you were eavesdropping!"

 Here the boys are post-surgery:
We found out that although their blockage rates were the same (about 80%), Clyde's adenoids were more difficult to remove and resulted in a rougher recovery :(. And a shout-out to a very patient baby girl who got to tag along for the fun! (Ooh, and an extra special shout-out to Grandma Pam for taking Jackers for an overnight stay. He had loads more fun with you for 24 hours than he would have with us!!!)

Here's a mish-mash of other assorted appointments:
Between the six of us, there were 76 appointments/procedures/tests/check-ups/surgeries in the four month span of June-September alone. YIKES. Some to note: postpartum visits, the aforementioned adenoidsectomies (sp?), another round of injections for Clyde in August (he actually went under anesthesia twice within a week), contrast x-ray testing for Carma in July when she was presenting with possible Hirschsprung's symptoms - very happily the tests showed a very normal digestive system!, suspicious moles removed from me, weekly physical therapy for Clyde, regular dentist appts (not technically medical, but whatev), Chuck's physical for Scout camp, and a different/new-to-us surgery for Clyde last week, which reunited us with his pediatric surgeon who did the original pull-through surgery when Clyde was a baby.

Here are some shots from later last week; Clyde's post-op visit fell on the same day as Clyde's and Will's last speech therapy so I sat in waiting room chairs a LOT that day...
This last year has obviously been very heavy on medical treatments, and it leaves me feeling grateful for so many things: our fantastic insurance! I looked today, and our insurance has been billed for $76,000 in the last year - and a few claims haven't even shown up yet, including Clyde's surgery, which will add another 5-8 thousand. Our family's portion for all services rendered during this insurance period, while pretty significant to us, pales in comparison to that amount. I'm also so grateful for the advancements and research and treatments presently in use that have benefited our family. Of course, I'm very grateful for the relatively minor natures of our complaints - we aren't facing anything life-threatening. And finally, I'm grateful for all of the good friends who have so willingly watched various kids... mostly Jack... when certain appointments or procedures would have been rendered impossible when accompanied by a squirrely, curious two-year-old.

Of course, one good aspect of waiting room monotony is watching this cute girl inchworm her way around and also just be sooo darling:
Love her!!

So now our insurance period starts over and I'll have to reacquaint myself with wording like 'deductible' and 'patient's portion', bleh. I've strictly forbidden everyone from getting injured or seriously sick... which I expect fully to jinx it and lead us to a broken bone within weeks :).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cousin Courtney's visit!


(me and Court the day she left)

Chuck and I have loads of cute nieces (nine altogether) but most of them are little and darling - not quite old enough to steal for extended visits :). Two of them are, however, and we were so happy that the stars aligned for 12-year-old Courtney to come and stay with us for a couple of weeks in July! (We are crossing our fingers that the stars similarly align next summer so that Mallory can come - this summer she was busy being a forensics rockstar at a national tournament!!).
 We grabbed Courtney in Elko and brought her home and immediately started subjecting her to Izatt family traditions, starting with taking a ridiculous number of pictures of ourselves :).

 Here we are on our way to dinner with the Curtis fam:
One day we got ambitious and hosed down the van... and each other...

 Court got roped into playing legos with the boys one day; she created a pretty epic battle scene with a bunch of minifigures:
Of course swimming was on the agenda; we left Carma with Grandma Pam for an afternoon at Ivywild Pool with the big kids!
 
 More adventures: while Courtney was here, the youth in our ward went to the temple and our wonderful Bishop went out of his way and made phone calls so that Courtney could go too! (also, please enjoy that picture of Chuck's beard, a mere four days before he shaved...). Court and I had a girls' night at the mall, complete with Orange Julius...es.
 Painting our nails was a regular event; this time we opted to match. Courtney proved to be an amazing babysitter, one morning she watched Will and Jack while I took Clyde to a dr appt, and then that afternoon two cute girls (Kiki and Stormi) from the ward came over and the three of them stayed with all FOUR kids while I ran some errands by myself. Heavenly! And I love the last picture of Court and Carma - Courtney was so sweet with her baby cousin. She got her dressed and in and out of her carseat everywhere we went and helped SO so much.

Chuck's cousin and her family live pretty nearby and have a daughter just younger than Courtney, so we got the second cousins together a couple of times while Courtney was here:
Including a trip to the mall and a sleepover at our house. I feel like I've now met my mall visit quotient for like five years :). 

The girls were super sweet and helped me set up for our Relief Society clothing share and swap at the church, even after staying up late the night before. Lexi was such a doll; it was so fun to spend time with the girls together!!
Courtney got to come back to the share and swap the next day too - she was amazing; she made the sign and manned the cookie station and folded a million clothes and held Carma for hours on end. Love her.

And then, just like that it was time to say goodbye! That afternoon I packed her into a car with the ever-accommodating Curtis family (they feed us, they transport us, we love them):
It was such a fun two weeks! I loved getting to know Courtney even better and doing fun girl-y things and having such a great helper around the house and our late night, front yard porch swing talks :). 

Love you Court, come again!!