Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quality Time

Every time a new baby joins the McMillan clan, it is like people have to find their place in the home.  Attention-seeking behavior, either good or bad, to not be forgotten.  I majored in child development in college which I LOVED!  I learned about birth order, emotional needs, etc. yet it is sometimes hard to apply.

i am like my mom.  I have countless energy and always need to be going.  That is a great blessing in many ways but also a curse because I need to remember to sit down and spend quality, one-on-one time with my kids and spouse.  Not quality time while I am folding laundry, prepping dinner, washing windows.

I am not an emotional person.  I don't need quality time or words of affirmation to fill my love language so it is something I need to remember to do to fill my family's love tank.  My husband is a words of affirmation man.  He in many ways is more emotional than me so I need to work on this.  I am sure that is one reason why we are the perfect match for each other. I need to learn to give more to grow.

Blake has been so angry.  He would get angry this summer but gets these bursts of anger.  So yesterday I took Blake out of school a little early to bring him to a lunch of his choice.  5 year old boy lunch dream....McDonalds.  He LOVED it!  You could see in his eyes and little heart how much that meant to him.  I was planning on going to Winco to get him his favorite ice cream that the kids voted against on our last trip over the weekend, but only when he was done and if he wanted.  I didn't care if we got there or not.  I just wanted the afternoon to be for him and about him.  I could always do grocery shopping another time.  It was a beautiful mindset to have.  Much better putting people first instead of the endless list of things I need to do that really should come second.  So that was a great lesson for me.  Everyday, I really need to remember to take time with each kid to connect emotionally.  The kids get to bed too late because I come home from work around 8pm and they are still up, like to come down and eat again with us, etc.  Blake wanted me to read to him when it was late and he needs sleep, so instead I laid down in the dark and told him a story about himself.  How great he was, etc.  It was just a few minutes but filled his love tank again.  My husband always tells me it isn't hard, it doesn't take long which it doesn't.  I just need to rewire my brain that this should take priority.

So I am going to work on dedicating more time to them.  Quality time.  I wrote little notes in their lunches and Blake really liked it. I remember a talk years ago about being at the crossroads with your kids.  Picking them up from school and maybe having 5-10 minutes with a child and using that time wisely.  I make Scott turn off his phone or i-pad in the car to talk to me.  He can't go anywhere and in some great way it is quality time.  I ask him questions and he answers.  Yesterday I heard all about his teachers.  He doesn't have any favorites.  Likes them all which is awesome.  Said Band is so different than other classes because it can't really be graded like other classes.  He is excited for PE this week because he and Ryan Price are doing paddle ball and realized they can win by giving really fast serves.  He talked about the halloween dance coming up and how someone asked someone.  We talked about going in groups to dances, asking people to dances, my experience with junior high and high school dances.  I told him about a time I remember I wasn't asked to a dance and that was hard and my friends found a guy to ask me that I didn't really know.  I remember one of the best dates I had to a dance with a good friend and we had so much fun!  I was kind of dating someone else but he had promised my best friend he would take her about a year prior.  It all works out.  I asked him if his teacher runs with him and he said, "oh, I am not sure if she will be able to do that.  She was foaming at the mouth yesterday."  Apparently they had to run up this hill and he felt like she was foaming at the mouth.  I am sure she wasn't.  Maybe out of breathe.  I shouldn't have laughed but I did. It was innocent and kind hearted but sounded so funny.  Scott is a good runner.  He was thinking about not running because of interfering with swim, but I am glad that he did.  It will be fun for him to try a school sport.  He makes it to fall swim when he can but does other things.  He goes about 3 times a week because of scouts or running or playdates.  He is enjoying middle school and that makes me happy.

I am coaching Aquabears this fall.  Just through the beginning of December.  Last year I kept coaching and while I love it, I missed time with my kids.  If my kids are there, it is great because I would be there anyway but as soon as they stop, it isn't worth it because I am missing out on being present in their lives.  I am so grateful to have a profession that my kids are a part of.  That allows them to be there with me.  It is something I love, gives me great balance and I think something that I make a positive impact on others and am good at.  I like teaching little kids.  Feel so blessed for my jobs!  They really don't feel like jobs.

Now that Scott swims in a wetsuit he really likes it.  It is funny because in the summer he wants to push himself and work hard and has goals. Fall swim he doesn't quite know his place.  I gave him a goal to try new events this fall.  Rec is awesome but it is all about racing shorter events and winning.  USS is more about swim development and not all about winning.  There are pros and cons to both.  So I told him not to worry about racing, placing or winning and just succeeding by trying new things and going out of his comfort zone.  The first meet is in 2 weeks and he is going to swim the 200 IM and 200 back.  He wouldn't even go near those last year so I am very proud of him.

Kira used to be so sweet but she is becoming sassy and kind of mean.  She will do these little mean things to her siblings and lie about it.  Like put her foot out to trip them and pretend like it is an accident.  Not sure why she is doing this but need to get that under control.  One thing she is doing better than last year is her anxiety to try new things or do new things seems to be better.  What a difference from last year that she wouldn't even swim. Was too scared, too anxious.  I signed her up for Rasmussen Swimming twice a week to swim with paisley.  It is 30 minutes before Scott's workout and last week it was too hard to get out the door so she just swam with me but we are hopefully going to make it this week. Maybe at least one of the days.  I thought aquabears would be too cold and wanted her to have time with her cousin plus I love christian. He has a great program.  I leave it up to her and our schedule and whatever works for the day we do. It makes me happy she likes it.  She goes to gymnastics and after wants to swim.  Reminds me of me growing up. Countless energy and always on the go.  Blake tried to swim but was always angry so now he isn't swimming.  Not sure why he was angry.  he always blamed it on his goggles because I didn't have his right goggles.  Needless to say now we are taking a break with him.  I am pretty chill with allowing my kids do things when they are ready or when they want.  Not sure if it is the right approach but for now it seems to be working. It is always hard to know the balance if you push or just let them choose.  I think they have to choose to do things to some extent because it has to come from within.  At the same time they can't just sit home and do nothing.  I don't care what they do as long as they are doing something productive.  Swim works for our family because it isn't in a million locations at once.

Tyler seems to be doing well.  He loves his teacher.  I got to teach art last week and his teacher is so nice.  She emailed a couple of times asking for an art docent and after nobody responded I said I could do it.  I am not an artist and 5th grade is a little intimidating because some kids really are talented artists.  More talented than I am but I can teach and told her I would love to teach as long as she knew I wasn't a real artist.  She is so nice.  It is always great volunteering in kids classes.  Tyler loves it.  It is his quality time.  She has them doing book clubs that they are accountable to read for their book club and for the first time he is really enjoying reading.  He reads and does finger knitting in his room and it is great down time for him.  He has never done his reading homework so if that is what we get out of this year, it will be a success!  He started a machine sewing class on Thursday last week which he was excited about.  He felt bad because he was the only boy but I know he will have fun. Scott would hate that but Tyler will be ok.  I think it is funny that Tyler isn't as aware of gender roles or norms like most kids or Scott.  Some of that is because he has an innate self confidence that he just doesn't care what others think.  It is a great quality and I hope it stays with him because it can and will be a great personality trait to have.  Self confidence is hard to teach and he just has it. He seems to be doing well.  I sometimes bring him breakfast in bed just so he can have quiet time upstairs and sleep a little longer.  He seems to need that.  I am sure it is because he doesn't feel well so I try to encourage that so that he feels the best he can feel.

Parker is doing well.  He is pretty easy going.  I hope he stays that way.  He is used to going with other people and tagging along wherever we go.  I think he is looking more and more like me as a kid.  He LOVES this little push bike Renee gave to him before leaving for London.  He would spend all day and night on it outside in the court if he could.  It is great but I also need to get some things done so the tantrums of having to come in are hard.  I then bring the bike in and ramps inside and he is good.

I am in love with Hanna.  I love holding her and her little noises.  I prayed so hard for her and recognize what a miracle she is.  It makes getting up at night easy because I realize what a gift she is.  What a tender mercy that is.  When you yearn and pray for something and think that it isn't going to happen and it does, it gives you a whole new appreciation and love.  Truly great things come out of trials.  There were months that I mourned her absence.  I didn't think we would have another child and it was really, really, really hard.  It ached.  If I didn't feel that, I would appreciate her as much as I do.  I wouldn't recognize the love of the Savior, the love I feel for her and the gift she is as much as I do.  I really do feel so grateful!

Danny is a great dad and husband.  I feel like I am learning to see things how he sees things and that is making me a better wife.  I am not a great wife.  Danny is not me and I sometimes forget that.  He has so many amazing qualities I don't have.  He is patient, can fix anything, loyal, obedient.  I wouldn't consider myself good at any of those.  However, I am a multi-tasker, can read people and just know what needs to be done. He isn't so much that way.  He just needs to be told.  Sometimes I get frustrated that he isn't a mind reader or just know what I need or a kid needs done.  It would take me 5 seconds to just ask him or tell him and he would gladly do it and I wouldn't get frustrated.  I am finally getting that after 13 years of marriage. Ha!  I have such a long way to go. I am grateful for all that he does and I feel so grateful for him and his patience with me and how long it sometimes takes me to get things.

This deserves a post of its own and once I get pictures I am going to do another post but Danny has a calling of being the primary chorister and is AMAZING!!! I peek through the window and he does such a great job.  A calling he was made for.  He is talented and wants the kids to learn how to sing but also fun and doesn't get stressed or have expectations of how kids need to learn or what level they should be at.  It is so fun to see him in his element.  Everyone loves him and tells me what a great job he is doing.  His pianist is a good friend to him and they make a great team.  This needs a whole post on its own.  I need to take pictures of all the fun activities he does.  Tyler loves that he is the chorister and always tells me how great it was.  All the kids do but I am learning that quality time is important to Tyler and means a lot and that is one way he gets it.  I am so proud of him.  I am so grateful he gets this opportunity.  We are so lucky to have him.  We are so lucky in my home to be blessed with great music.  As soon as I get some pictures I am going to show you how fun his classes are.

This parenting/spousing thing is no joke.  So much to work on, figure out and improve.  I am trying to make scripture study and prayer a bigger part of my parenting and wifing.  I know that is the greatest tool we can use.  It feels good to be journaling again.  This is my journal for life now. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

And life rolls on

Heidi's working with the Aquabears again.  Scott and Kira go out there with her in the IS300.  They complain about the cold water and wear wetsuits but they seem to enjoy it.


Mister got into the diaper rash cream.  I don't know why kids do this.  Desitin is so hard to remove.


But he loves his balance bike and cries when it's time to go in.


The kids have been enjoying doing their wheeled activities in the evenings while Heidi's working.  I just put the baby in the bjorn and walk around.



I shot these with the new 70-200.  It's harder than you think to get a good picture of a moving person.  Plus, there was low light.  But these were keepers.


Missy is three weeks old.




Mister should take naps during the day but usually doesn't.  Then he has a melt down in the evening that can last 1.5 hrs.  This time he fell asleep on my shoulder while I was reading scriptures.  I lay on the floor with my head against the wall to read from my phone.

Blake went to the principal's office today for anger management.  The teacher and principal described his tantrum-like behavior, which is what we deal with everyday at home.  He has a hard time articulating what is bothering him.  Instead, he explodes, gets punished, and then a few hours later can use words to describe why he was upset.  For example, I pick him up a lot of days.  He comes over to me, throws down his helmet, throws his backpack in the air, and walks off.  No words have been exchanged.  Finally, after a twenty minute stand-off, he yells, "You didn't even charge my helicopter!"

"Did you ask me to?"  No.  He just assumed that I'd do it--I don't know, because I can't read his mind--and was now melting down that it wasn't charged.  It's frustrating.

We've even had some behavior issues with Kira.  Maybe all of this is because of Missy's arrival.  Kira can be so kind and thoughtful most of the time.  Maybe she's just getting to bed late because of gymnastics and swim.  Most of the time she does piano in the morning with me.

I really like my lenses though.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The meaning of Hanna

Hanna really is our miracle baby.  Danny was done having kids a while ago.  I wanted Parker and he obliged but after that he wanted to be done.  I really wanted one more but left it up to him.  I told him he better just really feel 100% that our family was complete because I didn't feel that.  I really felt like there was one more child that was meant to be in our family but Danny insisted he didn't feel that and that I would always innately feel that.

After months of me holding out that he would change his mind and it never happening, he finally got his dream of going in and getting a vasectomy.  I gave him the OK, but it was really, really hard for him.  I felt horrible!  It was a rough couple of months or mourning on my part.  I told him I wasn't angry at him, just needed time to mourn.  I have never prayed so hard and finally just placed it in the Lord's hands.  I came to the conclusion that sometimes that is life and marriage. A marriage take compromise and maybe this was something that I needed to learn and become ok with.  I prayed that the Lord would change and heal my heart for this unborn baby who I undeniably felt belonged in our family.  After a couple of months I wasn't all the way better, but definitely healing.  Danny felt bad because he could see how much it affected me and I told him it would just take time.  It was like mourning a loss.

Each month I would hope to be pregnant, knowing that it was getting to the point of being a miracle.  I also knew that if I got pregnant it would be in the middle of swim season that would create a whole new issue to resolve.  Looking back, so insignificant but nonetheless, a commitment that was important to me and I loved.

After about 4 months, Danny thought I was pregnant.  Turns out I was.  It was a total miracle and Danny recognized it as the Lords hand.  An answer to my prayers.  The 1/2000 chance that the surgery didn't work and that we were pregnant.  

I went into the doctor and found out I was due on my parents anniversary and knew that this little baby really was a gift from them and God.  There is no denying that this baby was meant to come to our family.  While I have been ready to be done with the baby stage, this little baby healed my yearning heart.  Completed those undeniable yearnings of my heart.

I really felt like we were having a girl.  We decided not to find out and I would have been totally fine with a girl or boy but would have been shocked if it was a boy.  Kira and Danny really wanted a girl.  The boys claimed they wanted a boy but I think they just wanted a boy to argue with Kira and to claim boy power. 

Danny claimed the entire time that after this baby I wouldn't feel done and want more kids but I reassured him throughout the entire pregnancy I totally felt done.  100% complete.  We had Hanna Ruth and I feel 100% complete.  I feel so full of gratitude for a gracious God who answered my prayers and healed my heart.  Sometimes I don't think it is fair.  I have friends and family who can't have kids and here I am receiving this absolute gift after a decision we both made to be done.  But God has a plan for all of us and He is merciful and all loving and I am just so grateful for Hanna.

When I am tired or up in the middle of the night with her or she is crying, I am more patient because of the journey I felt to get her here.  I remember those yearning feelings I had for her and the mourning and pain my heart felt when I thought I wouldn't have her.

Danny chose the name after my mom and Grandma.  I looked it up the other day and it comes from the Hebrew given name channa.  "It is derived from the root ḥ-n-n, meaning 'favour' or 'grace'; A Dictionary of First Names attributes the name to a word meaning 'He (God) has favoured me [with a child]'."

As I read that, there was no denying that God did favor us with a child.  He truly is a God of miracles and she will be my forever witness of that. 

Danny got tested and sure enough he has 0 sperm.  His surgery was indeed a success.  She is a miracle!  And the best part is, to Danny's unbelief, I feel totally complete.  I feel like she completed our family and 100% at peace.  What an amazing feeling.  How grateful I am for her and for God's grace and mercy and love.  He is an Amazing God! 

Hanna's Birth

When Hanna was born all the kids wanted to know when they were born, how long it took to be born, etc. and sadly I can't remember most of the stories. I remember bits and pieces.  I remember going into an appointment for Tyler and my blood pressure being too high so they wheeled me up in a wheel chair, taking down the pop up when my water broke at UoP with Scott, the kids being at the park with my parents when Kira was born.  I claim to have early alzheimers.  Some is contributed to having way too much going on in our lives over the years.  So here are the details of Hanna's birth so someday I can tell her.

County, the end of season meet, with Dana Hills was the 11th-13th.  I had some contractions leading up the meet but Friday night: the excitement of relays, cheering etc. gave me contractions.  Nothing unbearable but definitely noticeable.  I had no worries of getting through the meet.  It was such an exciting meet!  So fun and the kids did great!  I came home and that Monday they stripped my membranes and I had intense contractions that day and night, but didn't want to go into L&D because I needed to clean my home and didn't want to go in the middle of the night.  I thought I will just go in the morning but my contractions ended by the morning. For the first time, I actually needed a week to get things done and wasn't overly anxious for my pregnancy to be over.  It helped that leading up to that point I was getting up at 530AM to get my house situated, packed and to work by 630, at the pool for a couple of hours and living the rec swim coach dream.  I knew it would go quick, but Dana Hills made my pregnancy go REALLY fast!  No time to get ready or even think about being pregnant.  I did fall asleep almost every night at 8pm when Danny put on our show.  We always watch a show at night and I can't even tell you what we watched.  I never really got into it because I was sleeping instead.  He often wanted to have people over on Saturday and Sunday night for dinner and I just always wanted to relax.  So anyway, I had a week to get things done now that work was over and before the baby came.

Nesting is REAL andAWESOME!  It is like cleaning on cleaning drugs.  I went through everyones closet to get rid of clothes, organized drawers, cleaned carpets, walls, etc.  It was so nice and definitely needed.  For better and worse, a decluttered and clean home allows me to function and makes me happy.  That is a great thing but also a nuisance when I find myself having to spend a lot of time cleaning up before I do others things.  When I should get out the door but need to put things away first.  I guess I will focus on the good and appreciate a semi clean home.  I just need to work on not getting frustrated or stressed when I clean my home in the morning and by the evening things are left out.  Working on that with the kids. So I spent my week off cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Danny claimed that he looks forward to this every pregnancy.

When the cleaning was done I was ready to go into labor.  My due date was my parents anniversary.  From the first time the doctors told me my due date, I knew that was a tender mercy of the Lord.  Some might call it a coincidence but I knew that it was more than that.  From the beginning I felt like it was a sign that they were aware, close by and the Lord was aware of the presence of them in this little babies life and my life.  When I thought about going into labor, I felt like I would have her on my parents anniversary.

 I had an appointment on her due date.  I was having small contractions and they stripped my membranes again.  I was 4 centimeters dilated and called Danny if I should go into labor and delivery.  It was his day off which was convenient.  I went home to eat lunch, called labor and delivery and they told me it was up to me what I wanted to do.  The great thing about being baby 7 is that they trust that you know what labor it and isn't.  With all my kids except Scott, I go in with mild contractions and high blood pressure.  They keep me because of my blood pressure.

I went in.  I took the stairs to the 3rd floor to keep my contractions going, they hooked me to the monitor.  I was having contractions but they told me my ticket in was my climbing blood pressure. Jacqueline admitted me.  Same spelling of my mom.  Something that I knew wasn't a coincidence.  I knew that my parents were close by.  Were a part of sending me this beautiful gift.

My first nurse was Natalie Cline, a dana hill swim mom.  She got my IV going and it was shift change.  I got another nurse who was an iron man athlete.  She said she requested me so she could get swim tips.  She was really nice.  I told the midwife and doctor pitocin doesn't usually do anything for me but breaking my water gets me to a 10 fairly quickly.  Every other doctor has insisted on starting pitocin first and then breaking my water to make sure my body is in active labor but my widwife and doctor said they would just break my water.  We waited for Danny to get there which was about 4pm.  Kaylina came to watch the kids.  They broke my water around 430pm and Danny and I watched Longmire on his computer.  My contractions went from nothing to moderate to the point that I couldn't really watch the show in one episode.  I called the nurse in to tell her that I felt like I was going to have the baby soon and wanted to go to the bathroom. My midwife felt like I would have the baby soon, I contemplated having an epidural.  If I would be able to push soon, which I felt was the case, I wouldn't get one but if I was going to be in that type of pain for the next couple of hours I was going to get an epidural.  The nurse checked me again and said I was still a 4 which was shocking to me.  I was starting to shake, which usually happens right before I have a baby but realized if I wasn't progressing I didn't want to be in pain for the next who knows how long.  The anethesiologist came in, prepped me and I felt like in the 15 minutes she was there, I needed to start pushing.  The midwife checked me again and sure enough I was a 10.  I don't know if I went from a 4 to 10 in 15 minutes or if the nurse misjudged.  She claimed it was because I was sitting instead of lying down.  Who knows.  Regardless, there was no time to hook up the epidural which I really didn't care about at that point and just relieved that my labor was coming to an end.

I pushed for about 3 contractions.  The baby's hand was by her head which was somewhat painful and the midwife needed to grab her hand and arm and pull it out.  They were pretty concerned about my high blood pressure and kept asking me if I was concerned.  I told them that always happens in my labors and it will go back down.  The doctor was in the room as well to monitor by blood pressure.  The baby came out and I saw right away it was a girl.  I would have been shocked if it was a boy.  Danny was able to come over from the couch at that point and excited to have a little girl.  He doesn't do well with labor.  He finds the entire process quite gross.

He said the baby looked just like Blake, which she did.  She was like a concerned, wrinkled old little man.  I felt so complete.  So grateful for this little miracle.  It was such a relief to feel our family was complete.  I recognized she was a gift from God.  Danny looked at her and said we should name her Hanna, which I loved.  It was my mom's middle name and Grandma's family name.  My family back east are all Hanna's.  We named her middle name Ruth after my grandma.  Hanna Ruth born on my parents anniversary.  They are close, I know she was a gift from them.

I felt great!  Epidurals are nice because you aren't tired from intense laboring, but they also come with back pain and not being able to feel your legs very much.  I had the best of both worlds.  I didn't need to deal with the pains of an epidural or the pains of a difficult labor.  I felt great!  I was so grateful.  I have always had easy labors, but this was my easiest labor.  I felt pretty good very quickly after having her.  I really had minimal pain.

Danny went home to be with the kids and get a good nights sleep.  He stopped by the next day during his lunch break.  Kaylina came back to watch the kids and Danny's mom came in to help for a couple of days.

Hanna was such a good baby.  They are always so easy the first couple of days and weeks because they sleep so much.  She has been a good eater and relatively easy.

The first week was the roughest not because of me or Hanna but because of the other kids.  They were all fighting with each other.  Maybe it was the stress of having another baby.  I think most of it was them getting to bed too late.  I am pretty strict on bed times because my kids don't sleep in.  If they go to bed at 8 or 10pm they will still wake up at 630AM.  Scott even earlier because he plays the piano before school.  He had just got back from a weeklong camping trip as well.  Well, of course they stayed up late some of the nights and man did we pay for it!  Scott had a meltdown at his awards night.  He gets to the point of being tired and becomes emotional and non-functional. He wanted to stay home from awards night and I should have let him because by the time we got there, he was done!  Danny doesn't usually see the consequences of them staying up too late because he is at work the next day but I told him that we weren't doing late nights again that week.  I couldn't do it!

The next week was much better!  Phew!  It is great getting back into routines.  Scott had science camp.  I had a week off before work started and it was nice just being able to relax and get into the rhythm of life.

We did a very last minute trip to Sacramento.  It was over 110 degrees here and there but we still decided to go for it.  I looked into a couple of things to do around Sacramento that I thought would be fun.  They were fun and we had a good time but the heat was too much!  When I asked Danny what he wanted to do he said he just wanted to go on bike rides and drive the RC cars.  We did that.  Overall it was a good trip. It was nice to get away but the kids and complaining would get to me.  They complained that they didn't want to do the activities we had planned and then once we were there, they had a great time and didn't want to leave.  I think if we did the trip in 80 degree weather it would have been much more pleasant and less complaining.  There were times I just needed to get indoors and out of the heat.  I don't think I have ever been in that type of heat.  It was HOT!

On Saturday we went to Old Town Sacramento and they were doing Gold Rush days. The streets were lined with horse drawn carriages, booths and performers.  It was fun but sooo hot!  The coolest part was the Mormon Battalion Booth.  The kids learned how to start a fire with flint, make rope and calligraphy.  I had to go into the train museum and wait with Parker and Hanna because I was worried she would overheat. It was about 110-115 degrees. It felt soo good when we walked in the doors to the museum.  It felt like you were going into a refrigerator.  The kids liked the museum.  Parker has been really into trains.  He calls them cars so it was fun to take him.  He loved the train that seemed like it was moving when you were inside.  He went through it about 4 times.  We went back to the hotel and went swimming in the pool which was fun.  The next day was Sunday so we went to church and the kids all did great going to nursery and primary.  Parker is the most adaptable of our kids with the least separation anxiety.  I think it is because I work in the summer and he is used to being with Kaylina and the other moms. I really feel like I am so blessed to coach, have the kids with me at the pool but also have others there to help and not be with just me 100% of the time.  It gives us all a very healthy balance and break.  After church we went to the fish hatchery which was cool.  The kids loved to feed the fish.  I remember going to hoover dam as a kid with my family.  We will have to do that some time.  The fish weren't climbing the ladders so we will have to go back when they are doing that.  Then we went to the temple to take some pictures and walk around. So beautiful as always but it was HOT!  The kids were dumping water on themselves from the fountain.  I would usually tell them not to do that but it was just too hot to stop them.  We went to the hotel for a little bit and then drove to davis to go on a bike ride through UC Davis.  The internet talked about a botanical garden walking trail that got great reviews.  It was soo cool!  And it was shaded and a little cooler in the afternoon which was so nice.  The kids and parents had a great time!  We saw horses, turtles, lizards.  Scott liked to read about the man made river that was filled with algae and how they were working on making it blue.

 We put Parker in the kid seat.  He usually rides the tandem bike, but we needed to pull Hanna in the trailer.  We put her carseat in the trailer because she is still too small to ride the trailer by herself.  It worked great.  When we got back to the car, Parker rode his little push bike all around the parking lot.  He loves that bike.  It was a great trip.

The next morning was Tyler's birthday and we asked him what he wanted to do and he said he really wanted to go to the jelly belly factory on the way home.  Easy and convenient.  I researched it and thought it would be closed on Labor Day but they said that people wouldn't be there working but the tours are still open.  I explained thinking he would think it was lame, but he really wanted to go. We went, he was so appreciative and the kids had a great time.  Afterwards, we found a dirt field and the kids played with RC cars and this giant dirt mound. It was a great time.  We got home and I did wash and unpacked and Danny took the Kira, Scott and Tyler to the movies.  They saw some action movie like Spiderman.  Can't remember what but they had a great time.  It was a simple and great birthday for Tyler.  Now we have to plan a sleepover.  He wants the same birthday party he had last year which is easy.  The boys play in the court, watch and movie and sleep over.  I don't love sleepovers due the fact they are up to late and in horrible moods the next day but can bare it every once in a while.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

My new lens, part 2

I finally, after ten years of talking about it, got the Canon 70-200L ii 2.8 IS lens!  The big, heavy, white sports lens that the pros and the paparazzi use.  I am stoked.  Here are just a few photos of its results.  First, though, I have to talk about how I view quality photos vs. how Heidi sees them.  I look at the composition, clarity, color, bokeh.  Heidi just looks at the person's expression.  I agree that it's important to capture a good expression, but sometimes the person just won't do the gesture you're looking for.  So then you rely on the quality of your glass.  I actually like Scott's and Mister's expressions.






Maybe you can't see the difference in clarity between this lens and the lower-tiered 75-300, but if you zoom all the way in, you can see the individual eyelashes.  Impressive.  Kira was at gymnastics when I took these.  Maybe tomorrow when we're all dressed for church.  Okay, bye.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor day getaway

Hey.  It was record-breaking heat everywhere in California, and even at the coast, it was still the high 90's.  We decided to go to Sacramento and spend two nights in a hotel.  Last time we stayed in a hotel was Monterey and it was a good experience.  This time, we lost Mister's blanket (baba) and he did not do well without it.  Plus, the infant was up throughout the night.  The hotel experience was not so rosy.

Heidi and I enjoyed ourselves throughout the day with the activities we'd chosen but the kids, it seemed, could not stop complaining.  Moaning.  Whining.  I had to wear my ear plugs all day and all night.  Once we got started on our activities, the kids enjoyed them.

Initial bike ride along the Sacramento river was essentially a fail due to unpleasant attitudes from the kids.  The bikes worked well, though.


Gold Rush days was going on in Old Sacramento and that was cool.






The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a pavilion at Gold Rush days but they weren't labeled as such.  They were "Historical Experts" and taught skills like rope making, calligraphy, fire building, and gold digging.  It was the coolest part of the exhibit.




Can't go wrong with a visit to the train museum even though we spent most of our time chasing after Mister.


 The fish hatchery was cool too but Scott and Tyler were throwing a fit about having to see it in their church clothes.  I should have taken a picture of the chapel we attended because it was so cool:  a two story brick building on 51st street.  But no picture.

This is the Nimbus hatchery in Rancho Cordova, 6 minutes from the temple.  There's a salmon run from the river and they also grow several varieties of trout.



 At the Sacramento Temple.









 I really like my new lens.  This 1/1250 at f4.  Bokeh not bad for such a wide lens.



Timer on a tripod.  That's pretty much how we do all of our family photos.  Usually I take a few and then select the best one, then edit it.  This was the only one we got.  It was about 111 degrees and someone was always melting down.



The arboretum at UC Davis was probably the coolest thing we did.  It was a trail along a river and the kids enjoyed riding their bikes despite the excessive complaining beforehand.  








Tour of the Jelly Belly factory for Tyler's 10th birthday.