Saturday, April 18, 2015

The party

The birthday boy had his party today.  He really wanted to go to Jump Jams which is like a Trampoline World but they were full for today and he didn't want to wait a month to go.  He settled on Pump it Up!  I think it was a great choice.  We got the entire room to ourselves for an hour and a half and the kids played hard.  I really wasn't sure what the turn out would be but everyone but one person ended up coming.  Even the adults got to jump and play.

 For his actual birthday he just opened presents and then chose pizza for dinner and a mint ice cream pie.  He seemed pretty pleased with his birthday.

Pipes is cute

Sometimes I feel sad for the boys.  They all came so close together and I was so frazzled and tired and depressed that I don't think they got the best of me.  I'm not sure I loved them the way I should have.  With Piper things are different.  Sometimes I watch her and get teary eyed because the love I feel for her is overwhelming.  I'm sure part of that is because she came after we lost Laila.  And actually, my love for the boys has increased as well.  It's just that they are gone at school and I get to spend a lot of time with Piper alone.  

I just cannot get enough of her.  She is doing and saying such funny things lately.  I want to make sure I blog them so I remember.  

She is still super attached to Mike.  The other night I went to put her to bed.  Mike was busy doing school work or something and she really wanted him instead of me.  I told her, "Daddy is busy.  I have to put you to bed tonight."  She said, "Daddy not busy.  You busy."  When he gets home from school her face just lights up and she runs to him yelling, "Daddy, you home!"
 Piper always wants me to brush her hair lately.  She still doesn't always keep bows in and she always wants any hair things taken out of her hair at nap time or bed time.  She is really set on being a princess and wants to choose out whatever clothes she thinks will make her look like one.  I tell her that it doesn't matter what she wears because she will always be a princess and clothes or accessories won't change that.  She really likes the word "beautiful" lately.  She will say, "Oh, that's just so beautiful."

 Piper has picked up a growl and an exasperated sigh when she is not getting what she wants.  I hear her growl at me frequently.  She was coloring in the van the other day and when I turned the corner her coloring book shifted and she sighed loudly and said, "I messed up!  You make me mess up!"  She also has been saying, "You not say 'no' to me.  You say yes" and if she is asking for something she knows I will say 'no' to she will add on, "tomorrow?" until I finally say yes.
This week I helped a friend clean the new rental her family is moving into.  I took Piper and she was very helpful and followed us all around.  She went to my friend and said, "Come here.  I show you something."  She walked my friend to the garage and opened the door and pointed into the dark garage.  She said in a mysterious voice, "Aliens!"  then she added, "but they not real."  
 Piper is so loving and she will often stroke my face or just cuddle and rest her head on my shoulder.  She wraps her arms around my neck so tightly and tells me, "You my favorite."
Piper also has gone potty in the toilet three times.  I am not doing any kind of potty training with her yet she just will ask to sit on the potty from time to time.  One time she actually went poop.  The two other times she went pee and she giggled and giggled when she went.  This last time she was supposed to be napping but instead she just kept yelling for me.  Finally I went in to see what she needed and she was standing in her bed diaperless.  She said she wanted to go potty so I sat her on the potty and sure enough, she went!  I am not pushing her and I don't even ask her if she needs to go but she is making progress on her own and I just assume she will start going more and more.

She just continues to grow.  Part of me just wants to keep her just as she is.  I think I said something similar in my post about Eli having a birthday.  I guess I just really love the kids as they are right now and I just want to soak in every part of their growing.

Carolyn Roe

 I've written briefly about Sister Roe before on the blog.  She is Isaac's teacher at church.  Or, I should say she WAS Isaac's teacher at church.  We got an email a couple of weeks ago saying that she and her husband were moving to Florida.  My heart dropped when I got the news.  Isaac is not one of my children to freely talk about his feelings but I know he loves Sister Roe.  She has left such an impression on him and has helped his testimony to grow and has challenged him to be better.  She has supported him at his basketball games, came to his baptism when he had only been in her class one week, sent him cards on every holiday, and just been such a good teacher.

What I love about Sister Roe is that she made each of the kids in her class feel that way--a big class full of just boys!  At her age she didn't say she was too old to teach these boys and that they were too rambunctious for her or that she didn't have anything to offer them or that she had already raised her boys and didn't want to be in Primary with this crazy group of kids.  She accepted the calling willingly and magnified her calling.  She loved each and every one of them!  Sister Roe has touched a lot of people in the ward with her kindness and compassion and everyone was sad to see her move.

I have the lucky opportunity to be over Compassionate Service in my calling and when I found out the Roe's needed lunch the day they moved I put in my request to take them a meal.  I busted Isaac out of school for a couple of hours and we drove to the Roe's house to deliver the meal and let Isaac say one last goodbye.  He had cried for a couple of days in a row when we talked about Sister Roe moving but he was composed when he saw her.  She walked us around her beloved yard, showing where her fruit trees were and the flowers she had so lovingly planted.  She was sad to leave.  When we said goodbye Isaac gave her a hug and then got in the van and then, while I buckled Piper in, he got out and came back around to hug her again.

As we drove away he was very quiet and I said, "Isaac, I'm sorry that you have to say goodbye to people you love so often."  So many good people come in and out of his life and it makes me sad.  But also, he has been blessed to have so many good people in his life!  I know Heavenly Father loves him and gives him the chance to be blessed by good individuals being placed in his life to support and love him.  He doesn't get to see his grandparents very often and I think Sister Roe filled that spot in his heart while she was here.

Sister Roe sent me a text once she got to Florida that said, "A special thanks to Isaac for his special goodbye hug...I brought that with me.  Gives me great comfort.  Love to all."

Thank you Sister Roe for being such a great example to me and for loving my son and letting him love you.

 (I had to take a picture of her gorgeous view.  I would be sad to leave this too!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

If freckles were kisses, he'd have a lot more

 What a happy day today is.  I can't help but love today because it is the day we celebrate Eli's birthday!  I just love this kid so much.  He bring so much joy to our home.  He has the best laughs ever.  He is kind and helpful.  He is a fun big brother and a good little brother.  He loves his brothers and loves Piper.  Eli is a little bit of a tormentor too, he can dish out some teasing to Piper that leaves her in tears.  Eli loves to color and draw.  He draws a new picture every night before bed.  His dresser is covered in papers, markers, crayons, and pencils.  He is quite artistic.  I love to find his artwork slid under my door on my pillow or taped to my mirror.  He also loves to be outside.  He loves to explore the woods behind the house and find big sticks and rocks.  Eli is brave.  His brothers sometimes get worried about things but Eli is the one of the three that lets them know things will be fine with his calm demeanor during scaring situations.  He isn't really a calm kid--if you know Eli you know that he is passionate and has a lot of strong feelings--but for some reason when it comes to being brave, he knows how to stay relaxed and calmly tackle the situation.  Eli has not always loved to read.  He really didn't have a desire to read at all so learning to read has come slowly for him but all the sudden his reading has just taken off.  He is so proud of himself for reading his very first chapter book all by himself!  He even asked his Richards Grandparents if they would buy him some Magic Treehouse books for his birthday!  I love to see his interest in reading finally grow.  Eli is a whiz at Math.  He can fly through his problems with no help from anyone.  Eli is still working on the piano and even though he doesn't love to practice he does it without complaint and is making improvements.

Did I already mention that I love this boy?!  Recently he sat down on the kitchen table bench with a loud sigh and told me he wished he didn't have freckles.  He said, "One day I'm going to be one big huge freckle because they just keep coming and coming.  I'll have nothing left on my face but freckles.  I hate them."  It made me so sad to hear him tell me he was unhappy with his appearance.  I love Eli's freckles.  I told him each freckle was a kiss mark from me.  Every time I kissed him he'd get a new freckle.  I don't think that made him feel better.

My Eli is seven today.  He is growing up.  I hate having my kids grow up.  One day Eli is going to be such a wonderful young man and I'm so excited to see what his future holds.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Knoxville is known for the dogwoods that bloom in the Spring.  The story goes something like this:  A famous reported visited Knoxville many years ago.  When he went home he wrote a scathing article about how ugly Knoxville was.  He reported it to be the ugliest place he had ever seen in his life.  The people of Knoxville were mortified and angry that he would say such horrible things about their city so they had a great big meeting where they discussed plans to beautify Knoxville.  One way they decided to make Knoxville more beautiful was by planting Dogwood trees.  The town is covered in Dogwood trees now and they are so gorgeous.  I had never seen them before we moved here and I had been told how beautiful they were and now that they are in bloom I'm so happy to experience Knoxville's Dogwood trees.  

I mentioned that our Relief Society memorized The Living Christ by Easter.  We decided to celebrate our accomplishment by having a nice dinner for all the Relief Society sisters.  We decided to use dogwoods as our decorations and spent literally hours (8!) cutting out dogwood paper flowers for our decorations.  We decided that we wanted to have pictures from the cards we used to memorize the document on the tables so Mike and I cut out some picture holders with dogwoods etched into the top.  We also gave each woman a booklet with all of the cards in them and a bookmark with a dogwood pendant.  For our dessert we had cupcakes with dogwoods made out of molding chocolate on the top.  It was a beautiful evening.

Planning this meeting has kept dogwoods on my mind!  It was a pleasant surprise to discover that I have three Dogwood trees in my yard and then the woods behind our fence have wild Dogwoods in them as well.  I love it.

Tonight after dinner we loaded the kids in the car and drove the Dogwood trail.  You just turn down a road and follow the arrows to drive along roads lined with Dogwoods.  It was a beautiful drive.  I took my camera and snapped pictures along the way.  Spring in Knoxville makes me very happy.  

Also, I included some pictures of our drive home.  I drive the road where these pictures were taken weekly.  It is a big main road outside of my subdivision.  We have to drive it to get to church each Sunday, the doctors, the grocery store, etc.  It is such a picturesque drive so I snapped a couple of pictures on our way home.    

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Living Christ/Easter 2015

Each Easter since Laila died has been bittersweet for me.  I feel a deep gratitude for the truth of the resurrection and the knowledge that we will see Laila again and I feel excited for Laila for the day that she will get to be reunited with her body.  I understand that death is a part of our existence and necessary for our continual growth and path towards exaltation.  I am grateful that the Savior has overcome death, both spiritual and physical.  Easter comes and those truths resonate deeply in my heart but sometimes I feel sadness that I am celebrating a day about the chance to see Laila again when really, I'd just like her to be here now.  So it is a little sorrowful as well as joyful.  Often my heart feels a little heavy on Easter.  

This year our Relief Society made the decision to memorize the sacred document The Living Christ.  I do not memorize things well and I was concerned about being able to actually get it memorized but I decided I'd accept the challenge and put in my best effort.  I have read, re-read, and written each weeks paragraph over and over.  I have written them on my bathroom mirror and on the white board in my living room so I could see them each time I walk by.  I've taken paper and pen and written it over and over while I wait for the boys in the carpool lane at school.  I've randomly recited the paragraphs while washing dishes or made dinner.  I've had the boys pop quiz me.  I've listened to this video a billion times.  I can't listen without getting chocked up.  I do not have it perfectly memorized but I only stumble in a couple of places.  

As I've memorized this document my testimony of the Savior has grown and my feelings for Him and his sacrifice have been so tender.  Last night it was my turn to pray for our couple's prayer at bedtime and I found myself crying as I thanked the Lord for sending His son to the earth.  It has been a blessing for me this year to focus on the living instead of the dying.

My favorite quote from the document is the final testimony that I leave on this Easter Day:

"God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine son!"


This month we have been busy making and selling Eastertivities.  We have had at least one of them in our home at all times as we've gotten them ready to send off to individuals.  It has been wonderful to watch the kids play with the different pieces and I've loved holding each piece in my hands as I've cleaned them, a regular reminder to me of why we celebrate Easter.  

Piper and I had a little fun with some Easter crafts.  She enjoyed helping me cut out the bunny ears.

Today, Easter, is General Conference so we won't be getting all dressed up to go to church but I wanted to snap a quick picture last week before church.  Piper has grown out of her church dresses so I had a good excuse to buy her a couple new dresses and I found this pretty white one on sale.  Piper loves it and she looks so sweet and precious in it.  Don't be fooled however, she was a beast at church that day.

Today after Conference we are having our Easter dinner.  I feel spoiled because our dear friend Laurie Tindall is making the majority of the meal.  She eats Sunday dinner with us each week and the boys always ask me, "Is Laurie coming over tonight?"  It has been awesome to have her in our home each week.  The kids all love her and she always washes my dishes each week and helps make dinner.  

Mike was out of town last week but I braved dyeing eggs with the boys and Piper by myself.  We had a great time and it actually was a good experience with little mess.

Finally, we had our ward Easter Egg hunt this past weekend.  I took pictures and they were kind of dark so I tweaked them on my other computer but now that they are uploaded I dislike the editing.  It is much too "bright" and fake looking to me.  Oh, well.  I had to snap some pictures of the gorgeous view that the Cruze family gets to see every day.  About half of the family lives together on this farm--they all have some land and homes of their own.  I get to drive to the farm each week for the my Relief Society Presidency meeting and I never get tired of the country roads, the trees, and quiet feel of the country.  It was a great place for our Easter egg hunt.

Last year the bunny did not come to our house per our request.  The boys were not taking very good care of their things and we just felt that it wasn't necessary to add more "stuff" to their lives.  This year they have really grown.  They are still not as clean or as good with their things as I'd like but they are making good improvements.  They are doing their chores each week, cleaning their rooms and just being more responsible in general.  We did tell the bunny to come this year but he only brought one small basket with a game of Uno for the boys, a coloring book and bubbles for Piper, some candy to share, and three eggs each with coupons for more computer time, reading a book with dad, and getting out of one chore.  It's been a good Easter so far and I'm excited to listen to Conference.