Sunday, January 30, 2011

Highlights 1/23 through 1/30

I love to copy ideas. I am not sure I have ever had an original idea in my life. I think it is against the youngest child code to have them. In that spirit, I am copying my brother-in-law and doing a weekly update on the family happenings. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

His are nice and detailed but I am not that good at recall and am far more lazy so I am going with a highlight approach.

--Addison gave a talk in church last Sunday (1/23). I learned that he would be speaking when we walked into the church that morning and got a program that had his name listed. I marched right over to him to see if he remembered and he said he had it under control. The administration of the sacrament was one of the longest we have ever had and I was sweating the whole time. He stood up and gave a simple and sincere account of our family being sealed in the temple. His most clear memory was all of us kneeling at the alter and looking into the the mirrors where "it seemed our family went on forever." You can be sure that by then my sweat had turned to tears.

--We started our Self-Cleaning House project. Our approach to the house has always been that everyone just makes a big mess and then we set the timer for 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes and then just clean in a mass frenzy. We decided that now that I am more available to nag, I mean offer gentle reminders, we need to go with a more clean-as-you-go routine. Our goals this week were to put away coats, backpacks and shoes in their home (a big basket by the door--we can't make this complicated) and to put all dishes in the sink. I probably shouldn't admit that we had to start there but when we look back in a year and see how far we have come, we can really celebrate. Or, the boys can laugh at the number of attempts mom makes over the year to get the house in order.

--With a good bribe for meeting our housecleaning goals, Parker really got into the project. After breakfast on Friday, he said, "Okay, Mom, it is time to make this house sparkle!"

--Colin only missed one word on his spelling test! The usual score is a 12 or 13 correct out of 25 so this is a significant achievement. As we practiced he spelled the word easy--e-s-a-y, e-y-s-a, e-a-z-y and e-s-y and I thought for sure that would be the one he missed. He managed to get that one correct, however, and it was the word suddenly that he missed. That was unexpected.

--Addison's report card for term 2 came in the mail: 6 As, 1 B and a D+. It is almost exactly the same as it was for the first term and very similar to the report cards that we would get for Alex. The Ds are in different subjects for the boys, however. If this trend continues, by the time Paxton is in 9th grade, he will only be able to get his Ds in gym.

--Paxton wore his pirate shirt every single day this week--even to bed. He agreed to wash it a couple of times in exchange for getting to push the buttons on the washing machine but it went right back on as soon as it was done. He even wore it to church today under his sweater. We are taking bets to see if he can beat Alex's record of wearing his power ranger costume.

--Alex gave a talk in sacrament meeting today. This time we did get the notice at 8pm on Saturday when Todd Stout kindly called to remind him. He did a fantastic job with the topic of temples. He had a great opening, but decided not to use it so I will embarrass him here. He was going to start off saying that Todd and the bishop told him that he wouldn't have to talk if BYU won both of their basketball games this week (they were on a 10 game winning streak). After beating San Diego State he couldn't believe he was cheering for BYU against New Mexico. When BYU lost, he had to hurry and write a talk but now he will start cheering for BYU every game.

That's all I got for now. Looking forward to the start of February!

Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 In Review

I love Christmas letters. I know some people think they are cheesy but I love reading them and every year I compose one in my head. It is always very witty and informative and I am sure all would be delighted to get it in the mail. Alas, one has never actually made it in print but I did at least manage a blog update last year so I am going that route again this year. I will forgo any attempts at turning it into a rhyming poem but I am not making any promises for next year.

Nelson--Nelson started off the year, thinking we could just coast through 2010. We were settled in our home, done having kids, felt good in his job and looked forward to serving in the bishopric for a couple more years. Then, in March he casually mentioned that he thought he should go back to school. Being the "helpful" wife that I am, his application was submitted before he could say just kidding. So this summer he began the executive master of public administration program at the U. The time commitment led him to be release from the bishopric and now he is thinking that there may be other job options in his future. Now I just need to announce that I am pregnant and his whole carefully constructed life will be turned upside down. It is my turn to say, "just kidding!" Don't worry, Mom!

The first term of graduate school yielded straight As (I'm allowed to brag in my blog, right?) We were all very proud. As a reward, he got a new reusable water bottle (we have to start small). Alex said all the old students love to carry those around. "You know, everyone over age 27."

Alex--It was a big year for him, too. He took it down to the wire but graduated from West High School and even managed to earn an award and a scholarship. Not bad for passing off the requirements on the last possible day. He is now also at the U studying computer science. He and Nelson meet for lunch at the union and have study sessions at the library in between organizing protests and campaigns for their favorite causes. Wait, I think that might have been an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. Really, Alex keeps his head down and does what he needs to do. We are glad because that means he spends lots of time with the family and he is great to his brothers. Plus we all get to hear his wit and commentary on the world which I love to debate.

Alex was ordained as an elder in the Melchezidek priesthood. He is now serving as a ward missionary and is given many opportunities to use his priesthood. He recently baptized a new member and then confirmed another member of the family. He was also able to give the new member the priesthood and ordain him to the office of a priest. My favorite, though, was watching him give his father a healing blessing. It was a moment of pure joy and the blessing was almost immediately effective. He makes a mom proud.

Addison--is all teenager and I have to say that teenagers are awesome. In 5th and 6th grade, whenever we went to parent-teacher conferences, we would hear that Addison is too quiet and that he needs to practice offering his opinion more. I guess practice really does make perfect because Addison has no problem sharing his views on the world with me, the rest of the family or on facebook.

This summer Addison got his first job working at cub scout camp. He is now an expert at cracking a whip (it sounds like gun shots but in our neighborhood the noise is not noticed) and managing 8 and 9 year-old boys. In fact when Carter had a birthday party this year and we ran through our plans to keep them entertained in about a half hour, it was Addison to the rescue. He organized the group and had them eating out of his hand while we watched with awe. He had proud and very grateful parents that night.

Addison is now our West High Panther. If we stay in our home, we should have a student at West High for the next 16 years so he is one of the forerunners of a hopefully good Knight boy legacy. Current passions are heavy metal music (passion may not be a strong enough word for his love of music) video games and sarcasm. He also serves faithfully as the teachers quorum president in our ward. When I was in high school my parents used to talk about having healthy balance in your life and not letting any one area become more important than another. I didn't quite get it then, but I do now when I see Addison.

Carter--Last year Colin had a teacher, Ms. Moore, who was very strict. When we found out she would be moving to 4th grade, I was nervous that Carter would be in for a rough year. However, he and Ms. Moore have become friends and he really likes her class and all that they are learning. The is the year Carter turned double digits and he likes having passed this milestone. It also means he is now a Webelo in cub scouts and he is a born scouter. It feeds into his love of lists, checking off requirements and earning awards. Hmm...I need to use that to my advantage more often.

Even though technically Carter is one of the middle brothers, he is also the oldest of the 4 younger brothers and has many oldest child qualities. He is a natural leader and loves to direct anything he can. Right now he serves as my personal trainer, stylist, bill collector and road rage manager. Carter us also continuing the family tradition of doing homework right before it is due. We sometimes wonder where he gets his take charge attitude so this quality lets us know he picked up a little bit from us. It is good to have his spirit around.

Colin--First grade has been a much better fit for Colin than kindergarten. He has a teacher that gets his style and he is a little older and able to wake up on time--huge difference! He is still working on handwriting and spelling but that is nothing new. Colin's teacher, Mrs. Flowers, was sure she was having the same parent teacher conference that she had with us when Carter was in first grade and Carter now has fine handwriting and won a spelling bee last year so we know that Colin will mature in those areas,too.

Colin is still all boy and loves using tools and wrestling. He has also really increased his interest in video games following in his older brothers' footsteps. Right now that is teaching him persistence and helping with some motor skills. It has also increased his ability to compete with Carter which is not a bad thing and is helping him learn to lose gracefully.

I asked Colin what has changed the most for him this year and he said "telling the truth." Umm, I didn't know that was a problem but apparently he is telling the truth more so I guess I should believe him that he used to lie. The important thing is that he is now being honest...I think.

Being sandwiched between two big personalities in our family is not an easy position but Colin will make a great ambassador someday and the whole family appreciates his easygoing personality. Those big blue eyes and innocent face are irresistible.

Parker--The year when the boys go from being in daycare to pre-kindergarten is always a big one. They go from being one of the little ones to running with the elementary crowd. Parker now has a library day just like the older brothers and they even get the same snack. It puts him on a whole new level and he is loving it. Leaving St. Johns child care was a very tough thing to do. Addison, Carter, Colin and Parker have all spent time there and they are the best daycare around but switching to Northwest pre-k was a good move.

Parker still loves music and wants to be a rock star. He also likes to tell jokes and stories cuddle up with his parents. His current favorite is "what did the tomato say to the pear?" "catch up (ketchup)". Alex had a variation of this joke and I am sure Paxton will, too. Parker thinks it is hilarious every time so it is hard not to laugh along with him. He also likes being an example to Paxton and for the most part he leans to the good example side. Life would be dull without Parker around :).

Paxton--In July, Paxton hit age 2 and I was almost instantly reminded of how much better life gets once the boys turn 2. Don't get me wrong, I love my babies, but a two-year-old starts to catch on to how to take care of himself and play with his brothers. It is a happy place for mom and dad and this time we didn't have a newborn to go along with our two-year-old, making it especially sweet.

Paxton is a typical two-year-old who is a joy one minute and and then flinging himself on the floor the next. Fortunately, those tantrum moments are few and far between--mostly because he has seven people to give in to his every whim but also because he is an even brother and they are a relaxed bunch.

Favorite activities for Paxton are puzzles, trains and cars. He also loves watching Care Bears movies and doing just about anything with his big brothers. He is the first of the Knight boys to really have a blankie and he does not like to go anywhere without "puppy." Pax does not like crowds or unfamiliar people so it is generally just our family who gets to know what a fun, cute boy he is but there will be plenty of time to show off his great personality.

Me (Lisa)--I started off the year with high blood pressure and borderline diabetes but after seeing a doctor and a little help with family and friends, I managed to lose a significant amount of weight and ended 2010 with a little less of me. Zumba is my new favorite way to spend my time and I feel great.

I also left my job at WGU which was bittersweet. I hated to leave great students but love having more time with the boys. I am not going to win any homemaking awards but I can play a mean game of Wii Party and build a pretty good train track now.

That is the scoop on 2010. No flying cars or replicators yet but maybe one of the Knight boys will hook us up in the future.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas this year was full of ups and downs so instead of a blow-by-blow report I think I will just go with some of the lessons learned:

--When 5 boys get THE FLU the week before Christmas, you are forced to pare down the holiday to just the bare minimum.

--With 6 boys and two great families, the bare minimum is still a lot to do.

--Every year we think Paxton will finally be over his stress about being around crowds (50 people at Grandpa's and Grandma's house certainly achieves crowd status) but each Christmas Eve is worse than the year before. Next year I go prepared!

--There will always be surprises from our boys on Christmas Eve. After being stressed all night about just about everything, Paxton walked right up to Santa and sat on his lap for a picture, though he insisted on taking the picture himself.

--The Knight boys will generally be responsible for the slightly inappropriate talent on Christmas. This year Addison told jokes. Next year he will run them by me before. Addison also insisted on being a wise man with skinny jeans and flair.

--My sisters will always pull through and make peanut blossoms so I don't have to feel guilty for not making them for about the 5th year in a row now.

--Don't try to cook fudge without a candy thermometer unless you are going for a soup effect.

--No matter how much I do before, we will always be up until at least 2am on Christmas Eve.

--Since my dream of a clean house on Christmas Eve has never been a reality I think I am just going to make a messy house a tradition.

--We have never had an unhappy child on Christmas morning so maybe I should stop worrying that we will.

--The best presents really are the ones that the boys pick out for each other even though I can get a much better deal.

--The other best presents will be the ones picked up at the last minute. Puppy the talking dog now goes with Paxton everywhere he goes (and follows in the Knight family tradition of creative pet names).

--We will always end up scrambling to clean before family comes over on Christmas. Gramella will hear the vacuum as she walks to the door instead of carols.

--As we open presents, one of the Knight boys will be either sleeping, crying or in time out--sometimes all 3. It is another tradition.

--No matter how much we stress, we all look at each other at the end of the season and say it was another great holiday and we are sorry to see it end.