I starting this post while sitting in Oceanside, California. The younger twins were taking a nap and Lucy and Elsa were watching the Hannah Montana movie - we woke everyone up at 5:40 in the morning to collect sea shells. We didn't find much besides oyster shells, but were glad we went.
Now it is a month later and I just might finish this post. It is by no means a polished piece.
So big birthday week came and went. Another year older for all of us Melzer girls.
This past year has been a bit different and busy for me. I started a full fledged preschool, I had to complete my 10 college credits for my teacher re-certification, and I provided day care for two children. It was a little weird for me taking on so many other responsibilities besides just being a normal stay at home mom. I found it emotionally and physically hard to balance it all - making sure I was giving my all to my girls, but still doing a good job with my other obligations and making sure that every child in my home was getting my best.
I really love being a complete, stay at home mom, but I am thankful that I could help aid our family financially when we needed it the most while still being in our home. Last summer was probably our lowest point income wise in our entire marriage, but I was able to start my preschool and then the opportunity to do day care also opened up last October. The extra money allowed us to do some of the fun things with our children that would not have been possible otherwise and pay for daily necessities. Things are a lot different now than they were last June, and we made it through the year (but I'm sure this new year will bring new challenges of its own.)*
I think it was a little hard for me to admit as someone who prides herself on being a kid person, but I had spread myself too thin and I decided that I could no longer do day care this next school year. I worked with a family that is our friends. They were great and flexible with me and the children got along great with my girls and all our extended family (cause I'm the type of day care provider that just assimilates the kids into our habits and activities). But even with the right circumstances, I realized I am a mom, and a teacher, but day care provider is very emotionally different (I have a new respect for day care providers). Most weeks, with my obligations, I was watching other people's kids for over 30 hours a week, some weeks were more like 40. There were many days I yearned for a desk job and resented when people acted like I didn't work. I had to admit again that I can't do that. It was too taxing on me and my family comes before everything, including more financial security. I've always had a firm belief in the power of just being at home, with our own children. I also felt like so much would be changing in the next few precious years and that I would be frustrated with how much of my time and energy was spent on other obligations.
So now that I am done with my teaching re-certification and will not be doing day care this next school year, I will be focusing on preschool three days a week (I really do love the structure of teaching and look forward to this next school year) and being more available for family. I want to spend more time on saving money and getting organized. I also hope to start back with I Heart Mesa again. I really missed the outlet that doing that blog provided for me (I do need some things in my life that are not necessarily kid related for my sanity). I also hope to blog more here and find a better balance than I had this last year.
*I think I've mentioned it before, but although these last years were financially difficult - I do not want to come across as "oh woe is me." Of course I know we are so stinkin' blessed. We saw many many blessing come to us in the last few years from family and friends and unknown givers. We are still able to provide a wonderful life for our children. I look at our piano, our tree house, our fun trips, my education, this time to sit and blog, my green grass, my healthy children, the cute dresses my girls wore to church, all around my house are reminders of people and a Heavenly Father who love us.
This is our "Hey girls, come take a picture with me for Mother's Day."
Now onto the kids
Leta is not officially our youngest, but my youngest at heart. We have to remind her not to talk in a baby voice and she never wants to grow up. She told me so. I always knew she was small but I just realized that she is literally the size that Lucy and Elsa were when they turned 3 and she just turned 4. She helps me to not feel like my kids are growing too fast.
She is constantly talking and constantly says funny things, like "Tu-Tu Wouwa" instead of Chihuahua. She also told me the other day after picking strawberries from the strawberry field that she wanted to go to the ice-cream field or at least get an ice-cream plant. She loves to be a cat, and wishes she had a real tiger. I told her that when Jesus comes again that the lamb and the lion will play together, including tigers. She got really excited and has told me a few times, "I can't wait for Jesus to come. He is going to bring nice tigers." Leta wishes she had a dog too. She found a snail at the beach and slept with it every night. Leta loves any creature, great or small (except scorpions and bees). When we went camping, I shewed a fly off her. She got mad at me for making the fly go away. She has let ants crawl on her too because she likes them.
She is still small in size and has a big voice and big cry (like when she spotted a scorpion in our home). Leta whales when she gets told not to do something. She doesn't like getting in trouble. Leta loves chocolate and anything mint. She still loves the color black and wants new black running shoes. She loves to wear her "Divingbacks" shirt (her Diamondbacks jersey). Ryan recently took her to her first D-backs game. He said she was cheering and loved it. She got a t-shirt and a ball. She asks every day if I know where here ball is at. And she was the cutest little thing in the whole stadium in her favorite shirt.
Leta was refusing to smile and Ryan was trying to impersonate her smirk. She looks like a doll in this picture though. She really was happy to go on a date with dad and grandpa Melzer.
Leta is learning how to swim, but she wiggles and kicks and squirms all over, but doesn't seem to get much momentum in the water. Lots of energy spent but not a very far distance covered.
Leta and her snail.
Her snail is in the purple container in the picture below.
Leta did not really enjoy getting her picture taken this last year, but enjoyed making faces for the camera.
This past year Leta and Annie were both in a kissing phase and they love to try to kiss me all the time. Though I am not generally a touchy feel-y person, I feel like I am handling their kissing phase better than I did with Lucy and Elsa. Poor Lucy and Elsa. When they were 3 - I had newborn babies who were nursing and often didn't want to be touched anymore than I had to be. As I look back on the years, Lucy and Elsa really had to grow up faster than Leta and Annie, but I suppose Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent them to be the oldest.
Annie had a great love for milk - until she got to constipated from too much of it. Now she has a great love of almond milk. She is proud of her regular poops now (I know...tmi) Annie is a natural dancer. She is constantly dancing and doesn't even need music. Some of her moves make it appear that she has been professionally trained. I am so excited that she could start dance lessons. I traded preschool for dance classes with my friend Carrie Brown. (All four girls got to start!) Annie just may well turn out to be our performer. She memorizes songs with ease and sang "I like to Look for Rainbows" with her older sisters at a baptism in our ward (we have had several convert baptisms in our ward this last year and it had brought such a wonderful spirit into our ward family). She enjoys performing (although when someone is watching she is more reserved).
Annie is more of my homebody. Sometimes if she is tired and we are somewhere else, she will be my only girl to say, "I want to go home. Can we go home now?!" Annie still loves to play with her neck in order to calm herself down and can be as stubborn as an ox. The other day Annie was refusing to get out the car door that was open that all the other girls got out of. I wished I could just do the natural consequence and leave her in the car - but it was too darn hot.
Annie went through a biting her nails phase and grinding her teeth. We have been giving her pep talks about how neither are good for her body. Thankfully she seems to be doing better at both. She has some good will-power.
Annie has also gotten really good at swimming. She can now swim across the pool and is working on flipping to her back to a float in order to rest and breath. She loves to dive in with her sisters. Her favorite is the pencil dive.
All the girls recently found a mermaid show on Netflix that they loved watching. Now they all pretend to be mermaids with special mermaid powers. I'm the lucky mermaid mom.
Elsa participated in the school play at Highland. Lucy was too nervous to try out because it was unknown territory, but even when I asked Elsa time and time again, "Are you sure you want to do this?" she was sure (I was worried about if I could handle the time commitment). Of course Elsa is still more reserved like her mom and dad is not a drama queen. I had to try to teach her about being more animated on stage, but although reserved, she did wonderful with her group part (I was sad they didn't give the younger kids a solo speaking part). She wondered if she would get flowers from anyone, but when I saw this pomegranate tree at Costco, I knew it would be a better fit. She loves it and we all look forward to the fruit in a few years.
Elsa can spend hours and hours doing art projects. She is constantly wanting to craft and create. She loves to read and was recently spotted at grandma Papa's house just reading a book quietly while her twin and her cousins blazed a path of craziness through the house. Elsa is more a perfectionist. If Elsa gets in trouble or causes an accident - it is instant wailing and sobbing. I keep reminding her that we all make mistakes and that we just need to learn from them, but it still causes her much distress to do something wrong (I wonder where she gets it from :). We went to a cabin with friends and Elsa accidentally knocked over the boys' dominoes. They were upset with her and I could see her trying to blink back the tears from her mistake. Once I asked her to come over and talk to me, should couldn't hold back the floodgate from her mistake. Poor thing. (That doesn't mean she isn't stubborn though. She sees no problem in arguing with mom if she doesn't understand why I am telling her no.)
Elsa is no longer the tallest kid in our family. Lucy must have had a growth spurt and finally passed her up after 7 years. Elsa gets cold easily. This last year Elsa memorized all her Articles of Faith.
Elsa was also my first girl to cut her own hair...without permission. She came home from school one afternoon in May and Lucy tattle told me that Elsa cut her hair as school. Sure enough, a big lock in the back had been cut about 5 inches and she was now sporting some new wispy short bangs. Thankfully it wasn't too noticeable, but it took me by surprise. I never thought my nearly 7 year old would be impulsive enough to cut her own hair, especially at school. It seemed very out of character for Elsa. She hid her hair in her desk so I had to coach her on how to throw her hair away the next day without any of the other kids noticing (I didn't want Elsa to be embarrassed and I didn't want any of the other kids to get ideas.) We all learned some lessons that day.
At the end of the school year Lucy got the citizenship award at school for being a good friend to those in need. I can see why she did. She is great at making friends (in small groups) and looks for ways to serve and be nice. I see it at home in the way she loves to take care of people, and make her sisters special "Queen beds" but she is also a tease at home too. She solves problems and causes them too. Lucy is competitive and loves to get awards. She earned the Math Blasters award at school for passing off her math facts 100% in a few minutes. The school did a wonderful assembly honoring all the kids. She felt very special. Elsa did not get this award (and was sick on the last test day - otherwise she may have gotten it this year), but did not seem bothered by Lucy's accomplishment. However, when Elsa passed off all her Articles of Faith for the bishop and got a treat, Lucy ended up in tears. She often sees the accomplishments of someone else as her own failure (I wonder where she gets this from :) Although I tried to assure her that she has her own strengths and that she will eventually get them all memorized, and that she just needs to be happy for Elsa and her accomplishments like Elsa was happy for her with Math Blasters, she did struggle that day. But since then, she has been borrowing my scriptures in order to practice the last few Articles of Faith she didn't have memorized. She worked very hard. A few Sundays ago she finally passed them all off. I love family triumphs like that. Frustration, then hard work, then success.
Lucy after being surprised that she was a Math Blaster!
Lucy loved to run (and is quite fast) and jump rope. She still loves to set up shops and special places around the house. She recently set up shop with a "Store Open: Closed on Sunday" sign. I was so proud. Lucy also keeps asking to go to a salon to get her hair and nails done. She loves to be "fancy" (in her words) and some day hopes to be a rock star.
Lucy gets carsick and recently we switched our car configuration to try to help her. She now sits in the middle row right under the AC. Elsa always gets stuck in the back seat (and thankfully never complains). Leta and Annie take turns sitting in the back seat now that they know how to buckle themselves up (Yep, bribed them with QT in order to teach them that skill.)
Both Lucy and Elsa love to build fairy houses and enjoy the treats that fairies leave. I love that they are still so young at heart, but mature in other areas. Both girls are excited to train to run a 5K with me in November. Both older girls have learned so much this last year and I love to see them read books to their younger sisters. Both girls are awesome at swimming and have been practicing laps in our pool in hopes of joining the swim team next year.
Late night readers.
All my girls to make notes for people. One day I was having a very bad day and ended up in tears. The girls don't usually see me cry, so I ended up with several loving notes and pictures. I sure am loved.
I do my girls' hair almost every morning and in just a few hours, they all look like scraggly muffins again. All my girls recently got a few inches cut off of their hair in hopes of keeping our appearances looking more polished...it didn't work as well as I had hoped.
And I love how close all my girls are to each other. The girls are currently crafting and Leta wants to play Barbies. She is finding it hard to deal with that no one will play Barbies with her....maybe one of these years they will learn how to play independently.