My week in status updates...

Sunday: Lesson on obedience... somehow Facebook got dragged into it... I don't know where I was going with that and would like to make an official apology to the class.

Monday: Just when you think you are making progress as a parent you catch your son eating cereal with a fork.

Tuesday:  Luna is singing Shake Your Booty to the babysitter - would have been humorous had we not just been talking about the fact that Perry was saying the F-word for the last 2 hours that I was away. My kids are turning into dirty-mouthed heathens.

Wednesday: It is never going to get dark - I want to sleep but have to shut the coop first... the chickens don't realize it was bedtime 2 hours ago.

Thursday: Blake's been gone all week - I have no incentive to make food... thank you Grandma and Sonic .50 cent corndogs for feeding us.

Friday: An afternoon out back with multiple friends coming and going, our favorite parade, and Blake's text saying he is coming home tonight instead of tomorrow... this Friday is shaping up to be A-OK!!!

Blake and the boys that so willingly put their trust in him - 50 mile canoe trip on the Snake - can't wait to hear the details.


The days are just packed...

In junior high, I ran the mile for track. My coach would only have one phrase of advice to give me before every race, "Pace yourself." He had clocked me enough to know that I was all over the board - he never knew on which lap he was going to get fast Cyndi or slow Cyndi. He would have preferred an even-paced Cyndi to either of those options but that was just something I couldn't commit to.

And summer is here and we hit the ground running and we are on our fast lap... it will all come to a crash and burn but for now we are enjoying a summer high.

Here are some highlights from that high...

Homemade ice cream - it actually ended up being freezing this day - go figure.

Sandwiches at the park - our daily lunch routine.

Swim lessons.

Duplos - pretty sure this might be the last time I catch Paisley playing with them so I had to take a picture.

 Some recreational swimming.

With a gun show every now and then from these two goobers. The difference in skin tones between these two is astounding.

Our favorite pond - the morning of the day they released the closure statement for E.Coli - so far we are in the clear. I am really not all that worried - I just feel bad that we had invited friends. It's one thing to give your own kid a bacterial infection but a whole different story when it is your friend's.

Dance camp for the girls.

 Jammy parties - much more pictures to come of the fun we had with our California cousins.

The tragedy... of all the branches on all the trees in this yard this is the one that had to snap?!? This swing was an icon of our backyard and has already had over 100 different kids/teenagers spun to oblivion on it. It will be relocated but it will never be the same.

Art - Perry is doing art!!! This is huge - the older kids being home all day have made a positive impact on his fine motor skills. 

Father's day breakfast without father... we let him sleep in which is a rare thing for Blake. I told him after he came up, "I would have brought you breakfast in bed but I couldn't think of anything you would hate more." He agreed.

Looking spiffy for church! Fielding is killing me in this picture. And the color scheme was all Paisley - "I'd wear your favorite color just so I can match your eyes!"

Dress-ups got resurrected - thanks to some old home videos where the kids saw how much fun they used to have being unicorns and pirates.

Pancake mornings - which would be every morning if Perry had his way.

 Found Grandma Anderson at The Village. Cousin Ashley introduced the girls to Charming Charlies - they were impressed.

Like I said the days are just packed... And I am trying to remember to pace myself.


The art of dating...

(Post inspired by Jana - thanks for the topic!)

If you've ever listened to much of any marriage advice than you have heard the term date night at least a dozen times. Date night, date night, date night - we all know we need to do it… here are a few tips on how to do it well.

How to do it:
*The babysitter. I think this is the bigger hurdle I hear from my peers on making date night happen. Babysitters can be expensive, aren't easy to find good ones, and causes that teenager self-conscience angst of what if they don't like my kids and tell me no. We finagle babysitters a few different ways. Easiest is grandma… she knows my kids, my kids love her, she's free, and there is usually after-date brownies involved - everybody wins! But no one wants to abuse that set up so we try to keep Grandma to once a month. Moderate is friend swaps... this requires finding the right friend which is not always easy but start asking around and hopefully something will come about. I love having other kids over so doing that in exchange for my own night out is always worth it in my book. Hardest is the tradition teenager... luckily I am Mormon and a huge perk of being Mormon is you have easy access to an entire database of 12-17 year old girls in your ward's phone numbers. 12 year olds are the best IMO because they usually know how to play just as hard as my kids... but I also dream of finding the perfect older girl who can drive herself (hasn't happened yet). And just so you know we have 5 kids… if it is under 2 hours, I pay $15… after that it goes up by $5 for each additional hour. Rarely do we use a non-family babysitter for more than 3 hours. If paying them causes you anxiety, just ask ahead of time (i.e. I need a sitter for 2 hours and am willing to pay you $15 - would you like the job?). Blake and I are constantly reminding each other (because we are on the cheaper end of the babysitting-payment spectrum because we have a billion kids) that when you were 13 wasn't getting 20 bucks like almost becoming a millionaire. Also, don't let this be a one person job, aka the wife's, take monthly or weekly turns on who has to arrange the babysitter.

When to do it:
I like Friday nights for our traditional date nights. By Friday, I am more than ready to abandon my kids for a few hours and it is usually movie night anyways so it makes the babysitters job a little WAY easier. We also go out lots for late night shakes or late night movies (although we are getting too old for this) when we have family staying with us and the kids are already in bed. We meet up for lunch during the school year when I only have one or two kids with me and we dream of Paisley getting old enough that on Saturday mornings we can sneak away for a run in the foothills and some donuts after. Honestly, just like reading your scriptures or sex, when you do it is not important just that you do it. (Blake is going to hate that I wrote that).

Where to do it:
I'm easy to please… Food is my love language so we eat out for most dates. Blake's work "pays" him to workout in the form of giftcards so we use those a lot and we always have a coupon to pair with it. Our favorite coupon-friendly restaurant clubs are Texas Roadhouse, Red Robin, The Habit, CafĂ© Rio, Smashburger, Noodles and Co, and Coldstone... all of these give great deals on a fairly regular basis. We usually have leftover time and go on a walk, get groceries, if Blake has a say go running shoe shopping or if I have a say go to the thrift store. Occasionally, instead of food we will hit a movie - you know if there is Matt Damon or Hugh Jackman involved. And we try to go to the temple but like movies that makes for a long-ish date which isn't always in the cards. Awhile back, we swapped kids with a friend down the road and lots of dates were just at home... those can be nice too.

What to do on it:
Hold hands, talk, kiss, open doors for each other, and try to relax. If you are in a dry spell of having anything to talk about print out this list and use it. (Once you've done it with your spouse - try them with your kids). The one thing I wish I was better at on our dates is taking pictures of us... what we are doing, where we are at, and who we are with. Going on double dates is still super fun even after you're married - just don't do it every time.

Why to do it:
Yesterday, I emailed Blake "6:00 - The Village - Be there." We went to Wonder Women. We really did not have time for it - Blake is swamped at work and is trying to pull together a 5 day activity for the Young Men in the ward next week. I had laundry, dishes, and a massive tree laying across our entire back lawn that all needed tending to. There were 20 different things we could have done last night that might have fallen under the label "More productive than watching a scantily-clad women knocking bullets away with her magic bracelets." But it felt so good - to get away from the house and the kids and to escape with the man I love. To hold hands and whisper nonsense during the previews and to contemplate tacking on another $5 to the sitter's fee so we could go grab ice cream afterwards (we did skip using our Coldstone BOGO this time). Dates remind me that we like each other - that there was once a time that no matter what we were doing we did not care as long as we were doing it together. Dates remind me of how we met and how we fell in love and that if I am taken out of the daily messiness of life - all those same feelings can come pouring back. Date nights are like couples therapy for me... but better because they usually involve ice cream.

Blake and I on the greenbelt after eating sandwiches - one of my favorite date activities that we can't do this year because of all the flooding. This was when Luna was 1 month old - leaving newborns used to be really hard on me but now I know the younger my kiddos are the more important it is for me to get away for a bit. We also leave the older kids and take the baby with us on dates for that first year because 1 kid... 1 kid is SO easy... now... it used to not be.



Survived our first week of Summer break...

Made some rules in the process.

#1 - Do not ask "Mom, what are we doing after this?" Especially if you are swimming in a pool surrounded by friends. I promise you we will have fun - just don't ask me what that fun will be because it is all subjective to if Luna needs a nap, or if Perry is freaking out, or if another storm is rolling. Along these lines also don't ask, "What are we going to eat for lunch?" when it is only 9am and "How long before we leave to go ______?"

#2 - One meal per day must be eaten away from home. Sandwiches at the park, $5 pizza by the lake, whatever random leftover chips/crackers/granola bars I can grab from the cupboard in the car. The feeding of 5 little people is an all day occurrence so the mess has to occur away from my kitchen at least once a day or mama starts going mad.

#3 - Don't put your swimsuit in the hamper - just hang it to dry or you will not have it the next time we need it.

#4 - If Mom is putting Luna down for a nap - no one is allowed to say my name.

#5 - Date night every Friday - no exceptions... unless you want to start having to visit me at the insane asylum.

I had just gotten back in the habit of photo taking but the whole crew around put a damper on that again. Here are a few shots from my phone:

At the park... always at the park.

At Wal-Mart... always at Wal-Mart.

At the doctor... always at the doctor. Why was this book ever made?

Finished my barn wood wall in our master... someday I will stage a lovely picture but this is all I got for now. All house projects now on hold as we try to survive Summer.

Public Works Expo - lots of talk about poop which led to lots of smiles.

Perry and Luna can not get better... they are lethargic all day and cough themselves awake all night... it is an exhausting combo. Here Perry has informed me, "I can not walk to the park - my legs are too sleepy."

The girls made skirts at Grandma's - thank goodness we live by Grandma!

Fielding finished soccer - he really loved it and made me realize it is time to bite the bullet and find him an activity that last more than a month... he is ready.

Summer madness is here - sorry if the level of crazy goes up in my voice on here... endless sun screening 5 little bodies will do that to a person.


A gift...

It's my birthday.

I have been given two gifts already - a best and worst.

The best - yesterday on our Sunday walk we met a new family who moved in our street... with kids... and he is a runner... and she reminds me of my SIL Micah (which means she is awesome)... and it all seems too good to be true. 

The worst - it is officially the first day of summer break - someday I will fully embrace such a day but right now summer break means we oscillate between intense boredom and "Nobody die at this pool/lake/park/mountain/roadtrip." almost hourly. Summer would be cake if I didn't have to worry about my children's mortality but since they are little and I have to carry so much of that responsibility - summer is one big crazy train! 

On the subject of gifts - I wanted to share one with you today. This is a gift that is precious to me and one that I don't always share on a platform such as a blog but I have been feeling the need for weeks now and decided today was the day.

Today I want to share with you my testimony. For those of you who don't speak Mormon, a testimony is a statement of beliefs usually in regards to your faith. It is an account of those things that you hold true and dear. It is something personal and unique and something that I have thought a great deal upon lately due to personal and family circumstances.

My testimony has grown and changed as I have grown and changed - currently it is founded on the fact that I KNOW that there is life after this. I know that Talmage, Boston, David, Jess, Grandparents, friends, and every person ever conceived on this world that is no longer here - lives on. This is something that I feel in my bones - something that is a fundamental truth - something that I have come to know in sacred moments at sacred places and could never deny. Something that I remember every time I look long enough and hard enough into the eyes of my loved ones. There is something eternal inside of me and you - a spirit that lived before this temporary mortality and continues on after our fragile bodies fail. Because I know this - I believe in a God - a loving Heavenly Father who knows and sees me. I believe he sent his son, Jesus Christ - the only person capable of fulfilling this fundamental part of an eternal plan - to offer as a sacrifice so that we can be saved from spiritual death (sin) and physical death. 

Beyond these three facts - life after death, God is real, and Christ died for me - I don't know much else. I don't know the age of the earth. I don't know what in The Bible is literal or figurative. I don't know why religious persecution exists or why there has to be so much economical inequality on this earth. I don't know why homosexuality causes such division... or race... or even gender. I REALLY don't know why Joseph Smith had to have so many dang wives. I just don't know... 

But I know what I do know... And I have found answers and peace within the pages of my scriptures, the classrooms of my churches, and most importantly the walls of my temple. So I will hold to what I do know. I will go to church. I will take my children to church. I will keep trying to be good and do good. I will listen to my heart and my head and try to love the people of this world a little more each day. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ... I am trying to live it daily and I fall short daily. The other day I heard this statement from one of the female leaders of our church and it has banged around in my head screaming - "Yes, that is me too!"

"I am fully converted but I have all these unruly parts that I am trying to bring along with me." - Sharon Eubank*

I strive for unwavering faith but the messiness of life can cloud things over so often. Sometimes I feel like all I am doing is trying to pull all those unruly parts back in line over and over again. And in all honesty, this can be discouraging. But then I think on what I do know and for a brief moment things become bigger and better than what I can only see in front of me... And I keep trying once more.

In or out of my faith - I love spiritual-centered conversations... if you have any questions, ideas, complaints, or moments of inspiration... I'd love to talk with you about any of it. I have to believe that homo sapiens are here on this earth for more than cold beer and whatever nonsense is tending on Twitter... and I love to discuss that with just about anyone who does or does not want to hear it.

You can email me at cyndi(dot)lovejoy(at)gmail(dot)com

*You can hear her whole talk here - it was life-changing for me.


Sun's out - Guns out...

We got back LATE last night from Ragnar Wasatch Back. My friend, Julie, went all teacher on me and texted asking for 3 words to describe the experience - sweaty, scenic, slaphappy  - an alliteration, thank you very much Ms. Hunt. If you want more of the details keep reading but that just about sums 'er up.

First off the pictures were in abundance so they got videoed... complete with our theme song Cheerleader.

Next up - the team!

Sun's Out - Guns Out.

Van 1 AKA the boys AKA the serious van AKA the foodies - Ben, Kelly, Jon, Bert, Jeremiah, and Jeff.

Van 2 AKA the Andersons and a random Joe AKA the texters AKA the annoying ones - Christy, Jerry (DAD), Kara, Cyndi, Blake, and Joe.
(Wow - Van 1's team picture is a thousand times better than ours - I mean check out that Honey Bucket scenery... not my finest work.)

((Although Random Joe was a great addition - you were greatly missed Britt!))

Then we will just sum it up with some quotes:

"I thought you would suck more than that." - Girl at Exchange 16 when she missed her runner coming in... and later repeated 48 additional times because it was such an awesomely horrible thing to say to your teammate.

"Did someone bring a fidget spinner for Christy?" - Dad

"Oh my heck - I think I actually like running!" - Cyndi

"Dad... Dad... Dad... Dad... Dad.." - Kara, Christy, and Cyndi to every runner coming in at 3am in the pitch black of night that ended up not being our Dad.

"I don't want to look in the mirror." - Girl at the high school where we paid $2 for the best shower ever.

"Psssst..." - Cyndi creeper cheering out the van window during quiet hours.

"Are you Lovejoy?" - Cassidy, a blog fan, that made me so happy that she introduced herself. We are truly coming to see you in St. George - be ready!

"I am scared for Dad and scared for Ben but pretty sure Kara is going to die." - Cyndi

"Oh Christmas tree - Oh Christmas tree..." - Kara to the runner whose reflective vest looked like holiday decorations.

"I would rather drink curdled milk until I puked instead of run another leg." - Blake hazing Kara. Other variants include: "I'd slit my wrists if I had two more legs to run" - Ben. "Wiping my bum with a thistle would be better than running one more leg." - Cyndi.  *But always directed at Kara!*

"I don't think he liked you cheering for him." - Cyndi

"Is it DONUT day?!?" - Dude with a heavy African accent at the finish line that scored our box of uneaten donuts. We made him SO HAPPPY!!!

"You didn't tell us you were going for the record." - Van 2 to Blake who kept his Ragnar Leg plans to himself. For the record, he creamed last year's top time on his 3000 elevation gain run... for those of you who don't speak runner that is a crazy steep hill! (Some other runners ended up running it faster than him this year though.)

"Sun's out - flabby mom tummy out." - Cyndi

Blake: "Joe - do you want a Fat Boy?"
Joe: "No - I already had 3."

"I killed Forest Gump!!!" - Cyndi

It was a blast... unfortunately I keep saying things like, "When we do this again next year..." I love to do these but the babysitting logistics are stressful. Thank you Jo and Jana for making this year's possible - the kids were well taken care of while we took our run around Utah tanning up our guns.


Memorial Day Madness...

 Memorial Day is like a bonus holiday... no work for Blake, usually warm, no crazy-tradition-overkill, and a way to remember those I miss dearly. It is quickly rising to the top of my favorite holiday list.

We started with runs. Blake on his own and Paisley joined me for 3 miles... this girl is one tough cookie! Then we pushed out two hours of yard work from everyone... there was much whining involved. After we put a very small dent in the weed situation , we ate some biscuits and gravy, switched out to swimsuits, and loaded up the mini-van.

Summer break survival tip - give each kid a white board and marker in the car... just make sure you have one for every kid including the 2-year-old that just draws all over her legs. The kids playing "cousin hangman" - perk of a large family is that this was still a challenge.

 Stopped by a random house to buy a canoe to add to our quickly expanding collection. Took it to the new water complex downtown - Esther Simplot Park... it was amazing even if so crowded that you couldn't get a picture without half a dozen people in the background.

We stayed for hours then were about to leave when Kelsey just so happened to pull in. She let us try out her paddle board which Blake rocked and I wobbled all over the pond on.

Then we were late for the next party so we quickly loaded up and headed to our friends for a pool party - stopping at Albertsons in route to provide some food for the party and our starving selves.

We re-sunscreened and the kids swam and swam and swam. It takes quite a bit to sun me out but by the end I was ready to go find some real clothes and to stop having to worry about this little fish trying to drown herself... like everything she is fearless around water.

We headed home where the kids crashed hard still wrinkly from the water and slightly pink from the sun. It was a fantastically full day that has me excited for summer... if only Blake didn't have to work.