Monday, September 27, 2010

Estes Park...Uh the Williams love nature??

On Saturday, we decided to drive to a place that has been recommended several times since we moved here--Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The weather was amazing and the feeling of fall is definitely in the air.  So we loaded up the van and headed to the mountains.  We weren't quite sure what we should see, so we stopped in Estes at the Visitor's Center to get some recommendations.  They suggested an easy hike around Bear Lake and they even offered a free shuttle up the canyon.  Next thing we knew, we were at an altitude of 9500 feet and stepping out into an absolutely spectacular setting. 

It was so beautiful and the smell!...the smell was amazing.  The air was so crisp and clean and smelled like pine trees and wildflowers.  I think my lungs are cleaner just for breathing that in!  These pictures definitely don't do it justice.  We all had a great time and it was the perfect way to welcome fall.  Who knew that the Williams family was so outdoorsy???

It was an amazing day and we loved every second of it, but don't worry...this is as outdoorsy as the Williams get.  We still hate camping and continue to support Romney's stance that camping is, "mocking the homeless."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Berry Patch Farm

The kids are out of school...again.  What is the deal with them having a day off every week?  It is fun, but I have to admit that the days off are getting slightly annoying.  But today rather than sit around and listen to the melody of the kids complain and fight with each other, we decided to take advantage of this unbelievable weather.  We went to a quaint little farm about 30 minutes away to pick our own raspberries.

The farm is called Berry Patch Farms and it is in a charming countryside setting.  I sort of felt like I was back in New England.  We used to go apple picking every fall and I was craving a hint of that fun tradition.  I was a little worried how the kids would react, but we had an amazing time and the kids were begging me to bring them back every week.

While we were picking berries, Thomas yelled out for us to come and check something out.  As we ran over, he showed us the biggest, creepiest spider I have ever seen.  Its body was easily 1" and its legs had yellow and black horizontal stripes.  We were in in awe watching it.  It was spectacular.  We later found out that it is called a "Banana Spider."

We ended our berry picking adventures by selecting some fresh wildflowers and we made a few purchases in the little grocery store.  Thomas has quite an eye for photography.  He took these pictures.

It was a really fun afternoon and we all left feeling a little happier.  I bought a bag full of supplies to make homemade salsa with vegetables grown at this farm.  Our kitchen smells like basil, cilantro and garlic.  I guess another day off from school was way better than any of us had expected.  Great day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To meddle...or not to meddle

Being the second of eight kids, it goes without saying that we had our share of adventures in the Thompson household.  Growing up there was the usual for a large family: broken arms, one broken back, two brain surgeries, handfuls of stitches and one or two late night adventures that our parents still know nothing about....(shhh)...the list goes on and on.

Christian, McSean, Kara, Alecia & Marisa

Our parents were very close to us and supported us in nearly every aspect of our lives.  They knew the names of all of our friends and came to every recital, ball game and believe it or not, every poetry reading at Carden Memorial School.  They were always there for us and we knew it.

Earlier this morning, I was thinking back on a weekend when my mom was for some reason out of town and my dad was home holding down the fort.  My mom was not gone a lot, but we loved my dad's attempts to dress and feed us--hard boiled eggs and Ding Dongs for breakfast.  This particular weekend, my two brothers McSean and Christian were at an age where wrestling was the only form of communication they used.  They loved to wrestle.  One night, things were a little rougher than usual and McSean ended up really hurting his arm.  He was crying a lot and went to my dad in tears.  My dad did the usual "Parent Broken Bone Diagnosis"...which means,..."Can you move your fingers?"    Fortunately, he could move his fingers just fine so my dad told him that everything was fine and that he would be okay.  But as the weekend progressed, the swelling was significant and he continued to complain of the pain.  Well, a few days later my mom returned home, took one look at his arm and immediately took him to the doctor.  Needless to say...McSean came home in a cast.

My sweet dad thought he had taken care of the problem.  He listened to his son's concerns, addressed them and then tried to help McSean cope and move on, but obviously McSean needed more help.

I bring this up because Lauren is struggling in school and I am trying to decide if her frustrations and my attempts to address the situation have merely been a "Can you move your fingers?" fix.  She has been complaining about how much she hates school, how she can tell that her teacher doesn't like her and how mean some of the kids are to her....but let's be honest, this is a cycle that is repeating itself again.   Sometimes I wonder is she really in trouble? Or is she a typical 9-year-old who enjoys a pity party?  But I have tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I listen to her concerns and have tried to give her the skills she needs to be confident and a friend to her peers.

She continues to cry about her situation and mean boys calling her a "platypus" or the teasing she gets at recess.  She came home in tears the other day complaining that one of the boys actually punched her in the stomach.  I decided it was time to do more than simply send another email to her teacher, so I called and said that I wanted to know how the school handles this type of situation.

Ms. K called me back yesterday and told me that they had taken the boy to the principal's office and the boy had said that it was an "accident" and "not intentional."  She went on to say that she thinks I need to help Lauren interpret the actions of others and determine when someone is being malicious or just careless.  She did say however, that she has told Lauren to always come and tell her immediately if something else happens.  Ms. K went on to say that there was another mishap yesterday afternoon.  Lauren told Ms. K that a boy had spit in her face.  Ms K said that she asked the boy and he said it was an accident.  She said, "I told Lauren, this is what I am talking about.  You need to learn the difference between an accident and intentional behavior." 

So when Lauren got home yesterday, I asked her about the spitting.  She immediately started crying and said that the boy at her table was frustrated because he wanted Lauren to stop talking so that he could have a turn answering the question, so he stuck his tongue out and blubbered his tongue in her face.  She said that it was so sick and she had spit all over her.  Accident? Lauren trusted her teacher, went and told her about the spitting incident and was made to feel stupid and that somehow this was her fault.

So, I am struggling to know what to do.  Do I meddle?  Do I turn into that barracuda mom?  There is a line I am trying to find in my role as a mom.  The line between teaching self sufficiency and protecting my kids from the pain in their world.  I am trying to decide if, "Can you move your fingers?" is enough.

But one thought is constant in my mind...I am Lauren's mom and sometimes it's okay to be her voice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We came all this way for a donut?

When Thomas was one month old, Romney and I booked a flight from Boston to Washington DC to visit Marisa and Rick.  They were moving to Ohio and we figured it would be fun to visit DC one last time before they moved.  The trip was memorable, but did not exactly go as planned.  Cora was just a few months old and Thomas was a tiny peanut and as new parents, we were all frustrated with the frequent nursing stops, poopy diapers, clothing changes and incessant crying from the two infants strapped in their car seats.  But we were determined to make the most of a few days together in an amazing city, so despite the cramped car seating arrangements, (3 adults in the front and Romney squished between two over-sized infant car seats in the back), we piled into Marisa and Rick's 1991 Toyota Corolla.

(Please excuse my overalls and Dorthy Hamill hair.  They were stylish at the time...right??)

On the last day, however, thanks to our new role as parents, we still had not seen one memorial.   We decided that we would hit a few before the airport.  As we loaded the car, it somehow came up that Romney had never tasted a Krispy Kreme donut.  WHAT???  So we decided that on the way to the see the memorials, we would take a quick trip to the Krispy Kreme shop in Alexandria. But Romney, being trapped in the backseat between two crying babies, had not heard the great news about the stop for a life changing donut.

To make a long story short, we got lost.  Really lost.  We were driving around for what felt like two hours trying to find our way...(before the iphone).  We finally found it and when we pulled in, Romney said one of the most classic things ever, "You mean to tell me that we came all this way for a donut?"  Needless to say, he didn't feel the love and as for that beautifully glazed donut that melts in your mouth? It did not change his life.

This past weekend, after Thomas' soccer game, we decided to take the kids for a treat.  We had seen a Krispy Kreme donut shop the night before, so we decided to make the long drive.  I was a little concerned given our little family's last donut debacle, but this Krispy Kreme adventure went incredibly well.  The "hot" sign was on and hundreds of  glazed donuts were making their way through the conveyor belt.  The lady even offered everyone of us a free sample glazed donut.  It was delicious and I don't even like donuts.  So, yes...we drove all that way for a donut and it was perfect! YUM!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thomas is Blossoming

Our friend Ellen Patton took this of Thomas at 2 yrs.
Since the day Thomas joined our family, he has kept me running.  The way he moved in my stomach was truly a phenomenon... definitely a precursor of what was to come.  When he 11 months old and was learning to walk, he would grab a footstool and push that thing all over our hard-wood floors.  It was hilarious because it did not help Thomas learn to walk, rather it forced him to run...full speed.  He would spend his day running back and forth and only take breaks to watch the "woos" (sirens) outside of our apartment window in Sommerville, Massachusetts.

He has one of the kindest hearts I know.  He loves to be a big brother and his relationship with Christian is so tender.  It melts my heart.  His mind is so creative and his ability to execute that creativity into Lego creations or hotel drawings blows my mind.

Our move to Sugarhouse last year however, was really hard on him.  There were not any kids his age in our ward or immediate neighborhood and his social life at school was stagnant.  No one ever called to hang out with him and worse than that, he knew it.  Sometimes he would say, "Mom and Dad, why doesn't any one ever call me?"  Ouch!  It was hard because there was nothing we could do for him.  And of course it did not help that the lovely principal at Bonneville Elementary tagged him as a trouble maker and he began to believe her.  He was not himself and no matter what we tried, the spark was fading from Thomas.

For this reason, our move to Colorado terrified me.  He was going to be in 6th grade and worse yet, he was going to be in middle school.  I had many sleepless nights imagining how he would react to another major change.  The day I took him to Rocky Top Middle School was harder on me than the day I took him to Kindergarten.  I truly felt like I was dropping him in a pool of sharks and warning him with a smile to, "Swim fast!"  My heart ached.  He did not know a soul and he seemed so small.  I still get tears just thinking about that lump in my throat as I watched him walk away from me.

In so many ways, I wanted to grab him and keep him safe from all that was coming.  I am learning however, that part of this journey of motherhood is learning to let go.  Learning to trust that the storms of life are necessary for growth.  My job as the mom is just to make sure that home is the safety from those storms.

Romney's cousin Allyson Bos took these photos this past summer.
But, I am proud, shocked and overwhelmed to say, that Thomas is doing incredibly well.  He is truly beginning to blossom.  He has told me on multiple occasions that he loves school.  He gets his homework done on his own and actually enjoys doing it.  He wakes up early with a smile and this past Sunday, when I was just too wiped out to wake up from my rare Sunday nap to help him with a paper, I woke up to find that he had completed it on his own.  This may not seem like a big deal, but this is HUGE.

He has joined a soccer team and he actually gets out of the car to go to practice...something that NEVER happened when he was on a soccer team a few years ago.  He is making good friends and he is even being a great little missionary.  He has invited a non-member friend to church and this past Sunday, Thomas was responsible for the fact that one of his inactive friends came to church with his mom.  When their home teacher asked the mom what motivated her to come back after several years, her reply was that her son Dylan was friends with Thomas.

This is not to say that we won't continue to have ups and downs, but I cannot believe how well Thomas has done.  He has landed on his feet and is beginning to soar.  I feel blessed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preschool for Sophie

Today was the day! Sophie has been begging us to put her in preschool since the day should could talk. We found a darling preschool here in Broomfield and despite being on the wait list, we got in. Romney and I had heard great things about this school and a few months ago when we were here looking for a place to live, we were caught peeking in the windows of this school and after getting an impromptu tour, we knew that it would be the perfect environment for our Sophie.

Sophie has been my little buddy.  She goes with me everywhere I go.  It doesn't matter where I am going, she wants to be with me.  Even if I try to sneak away and run a quick errand, she can always hear that garage door opening and she comes running out to join me.  I am going to miss that.

I guess it is time for her to make new buddies...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Smoke and Gratitude

The air here is smokey.  On Monday, Romney and the kids had planned to go swimming for the last time before the pool closed for winter, but our swimming adventures were stopped when smoke filled the air and the mountains just west of our home were blanketed with a thick, black cloud.  The Boulder mountains are about 20 miles from our home and it is so sad to watch the black smoke continue to rise from those mountains.  The latest reports are that over 7500 acres have burned and at least 100 homes have been destroyed.

As I have watched the news, I can't help but be reminded of how unpredictable life is.  A couple was interviewed and they recounted when they found out just how close the fires were to their home when the winds pushed the flames within 200 feet of their house.  They only had time to grab each other and escape the flames that literally devoured their home a few minutes later.  So sad.

But it is also a commentary on life to watch how we are now getting used to the smell of smoke and ashy skies.  We have moved on and it seems like the horror of the destruction is no longer so alarming.  All of this certainly has made me feel more resolved to be grateful for every day.  There is no way to predict what the winds will bring our way tomorrow.

So today, I want to be more grateful.  Grateful for a happy marriage and happy kids.  Grateful that my kids are still at an age where they like me and need me.  I am grateful that my girls are getting to be such good friends and that behind closed doors, I can hear Lauren tell Sophie that she is beautiful when she dresses up like a princess.  I love how sparkly and squinty Christian's eyes get when he is happy.  I love that Thomas is loving school.  I appreciate that I have a healthy body and can get sweaty in an exercise class. I love that Romney is a hard worker and is one of the most driven people I know. I am grateful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Off to Colorado Springs for Sleepover with my Sister

Kera, Savanna, Kara, Eliza, Marisa & Alecia at Eliza's Wedding 2007
I am lucky.  On my side of the family, I have 4 beautiful, supportive and amazing sisters and one sister-in-law with the same amazing qualities.  We are all incredibly close and talk to each other several times a week.  I have been fortunate enough to have lived in the same city with all of them except for my oldest sister Marisa. 

For as long as I can remember, my older sister Marisa and I have wanted to live next to each other.  Our kids are all the same ages and the two of us have experienced so many major life events together.  Even as kids we were sure that we were going to live across the street from our parents.  There have been countless conversations over the years where we have discussed the desire to live close, to be able to help each other with projects and just enjoy a quick trip to Target, but there has never been a time when that has been possible.  The idea of being able to walk to see each other has always seemed dreamy.  However, we have always lived on opposite sides of the country and our quality time together usually happens on a marathon visit when she is visiting my parents in Salt Lake City. 

Well, although the dream is not a reality, we now live 1 1/2 hours apart and we are trying hard to make up for lost time.  The kids are out of school so we are headed south to Colorado Springs.  The kids think that it is for a sleepover for them, but little do they know that they are just invited to a sleepover for me.

Alecia & Marisa sporting some fancy 70's clothes.
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