4.22.2014

Our Easter


















{Big thanks to Grandma Carol, Nanny & Aunt Julie for helping furnish this years Easter baskets!}

4.21.2014

The Happiness Project

Have you read it?
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin?
If you haven't, I highly recommend it. Per her inspiration, I have decided to start my own Happiness Project, and will be spending the next twelve months working to make myself happier in a myriad of ways.

In Gretchen's words,
"I want to change my life without changing my life."  
I want to dissect my everyday life and find ways to be happier.

After all, research shows that happy people are:
more altruistic
more productive
more helpful
more likable
more creative
more resilient
more interested in others
more friendly
more healthy

I mean, if those aren't good reasons, what are?

---

Gretchen's book starts off with her saying she doesn't want to "fail to comprehend the splendor of what I have" and her stating that she truly believes it is possible to make herself happier.  Happiness, she tells us, is 50% genetics, 10-20% life circumstances (age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, income, health, marital status, religious affiliation) and the remaining 30-40% is how a person thinks and acts.

She chooses eleven areas of focus, one for each month, reserving the last month for reflection.
Energy
Parenthood
Friendship
Mindfulness
Marriage
Work
Play
Passion
Eternity
Attitude
Money

Then each month she reflects on her goal area, creates some goals to work on within that topic, and creates constant reminders for herself so she can breed success.

She says good goals need to be:
concrete
measurable
with structured accountability
and positive reinforcement

Keeping these in mind, I have created my own schedule of Happiness Boosting for the next year, from April 2014-March 2015.

---

Two of my favorite parts of the book are Gretchen's "12 Commandments"
and her "Secrets of Adulthood".
To understand fully, you just have to read the book, but basically the 12 commandments are her new "life rules" and her "Secrets of Adulthood" are truths she has learned or picked up along the way, such as "It is easier to complain than to be satisfied" referring to the difficulty we find when trying to be happy.

So I have created my own lists.  I will keep adding to these as the project grows.  I will be posting my own personal commandments and my own "Secrets of Adulthood" in the coming days.

I am so excited to be on this journey and hope it inspires you to find more joy in your life as well!

4.18.2014

Work is work

The other day I took the boys to school to spend some time with Josh's class and watch a science experiment.  We walked in during student free-time.  Half the kids were on computers, the other half were doing arts & crafts at their desks.

As I sat back and watched Josh in action interacting with his students, I was taken aback.

First, he is an amazing teacher.  So patient and kind and in tune with his kids.  They challenge him, but they respect him.  What got me was how teaching a class full of students is so eerily similar to mothering a house full of children.

I must have heard them say, "Mr. C!" "Mr. C!" "Mr. C!" over a hundred times in the hour I was there.  It reminded me of my boys. "Mom!" "Mom!" "Mom!" All.the.time.

I looked over to Josh and smiled lovingly.

"You poor thing," I said.  "You spend your whole day here, answering to small children, surrounded by this chaos, and then you get home and I say, 'I'm done. They're yours.' ... Do you ever take the long way home?"

He laughed and said no.  But he did admit that sometimes he sits at his desk after work and just stares at the wall.  From the moment he wakes up in the morning, the guy is in high demand.  The boys want to see daddy, hug daddy, sit by daddy.  Then at work the students want to see Mr. C, high five Mr. C, be heard by Mr. C.  Then he comes home and I want to vent to my husband, kiss my husband and spend time with my husband.

I smiled, apologized that I don't always have empathy for the day he has had, and told him I love him.

---

It really got me thinking. About how wherever you are, whatever you are doing, what you do all day long is work.  Josh worked for years at jobs he tolerated, and even some he hated.  He now has his "dream job"... The career he desired, work towards and achieved.  But that doesn't mean that it isn't work.

I, too, have my "dream job".  Being home with our boys is the only place I want to be.  I wake up some mornings (especially ones like today where the night before consisted of a lot of trips down the hall to the boys' room to give doses of tylenol, blow noses and rub backs) and feel intense sympathy for working moms.  I look back to my own past and wonder how in the world I did it. 

Are there moments when it's all worth it? Absolutely.  When Wyatt looks at me after he finishes laughing and asks, "Are we funny, mom?"  Or when Josh has drilled a concept for weeks, and finally (!) the lightbulb goes on above a student's head.  Those are the moments we live for.

The rest of the time, though, we are working. Diligently pouring the best of ourselves into the children around us, in hopes of making their futures just a little bit brighter.


~

4.17.2014

Throw Back Thursday

This is what our yard looked like the weekend before our final garage sale in Washington.  It's crazy for me to look back, knowing it's been three years since then, and knowing that I used to live in a place where grass and trees existed!





4.16.2014

March & April Picture Palooza

I have been feeling so overwhelmed by the pictures I have to blog, that I decided today would be the day.  The March/April Picture Palooza Post would eliminate all the pictures I had poking around in my brain and would catch me up so I could {finally!} get around to answering everyone's awesome questions about life in the bush.

So enjoy a little of this, a little of that, and a taste of Marshall spring!

---

Guess & Go:

We have a writer!

The boys and I have been working hard in homeschooling on "Guess & Go", sounding out words and learning to read.  Today Jack knocked my socks off when he gave me this  note that he worked on completely independently.

"Mom, this is our
plans.  First we will have a dance party
Then we will go
outside."

I absolutely love this stage of development and am looking forward to much more writing in their future.

---

Weather:

Unfortunately for Jack, he and Logan are running fevers, so even though it is 45 degrees outside right now (!!!) we won't be going outside this afternoon.

One month ago, it looked like this:
 Snow, wind, cold temperatures...




And now it looks like this:

The sun is rising near 7am, and not setting until after 10pm.  
This is in stark contrast to the darkness we had this winter.

 ---

ABC Mouse:

The boys have really gotten into ABC Mouse on the ipad Josh bought them.  While I do reading with one twin, the other gets to do ABC Mouse.  They are able to earn points and "buy" things for their ABC Mouse avatar.  They can be read stories, play games or do puzzles.  I love it, and so do they!

---

My boys


---

More Babies?

 I asked Wyatt the other day if he thought we were going to have anymore babies and he goes, 
"Nope. We're done."
---

Bubble Boy:

The boys love bath time, which is nice when this mama needs a break.

Jack called me in to show me something last week and I found him making bubbles.

 He was so proud of himself!

---

Saturday Mornings:

Saturday mornings are my morning to get up with the boys.  We usually watch cartoons while playing Legos and eating dry cereal on the rug in the living room.  They're so cute that I wanted a picture, and they were yelling at me cause my flash was too bright!

---

Nap Time:

I wanted to capture a picture of Wyatt going up the stairs with his taggie at nap time.  This is a beautiful time of calm in our house.  The four of us read together upstairs on the couch in my room.  Then the twins do silent reading (separately) while I lay Wyatt down in his room.

 We are thinking that this summer we will give up Wyatt's nap... and while it makes me sad selfishly (no more quiet afternoon break time for me) it also gives me an insane sense of freedom.  We have been slaves to nap time for nearly six years.  I am ready for the day to be a day, not dictated by the clock or a cranky toddler.  

---

Memory books:

 The boys take turns having their silent reading in my room and the playroom.  When they are up in my room, their preferred books are the memory books I made on Shutterfly.  

 After I lay Wyatt down, I often take a stroll down memory lane with them, looking at the books and talking about all the fun memories.

---

Saturday Social:

The boys LOVE Saturday Social.  All eligible (well behaved) students get to come on Saturday from 10-12pm to play in the gym, go on computers and get slushees and popcorn from the student store.

The boys love the scooters best and have such fun on those things!

Week before last we missed because everyone in the village was sick, and I was hoping to avoid the boys getting it. Well, we caught it anyway, so I guess we missed it for nothing!

---

Bears!

There has been a few brown bear sightings in town, so we are all on high alert.  It (we think the multiple sightings are of just one bear) has been spotted at the old airport, and also by the bridge near the new airport.  

This is the time of year that's most dangerous because it's warmer, so the bears are waking up, but the river is still frozen, and no berries have grown yet... So what you have are some very hungry, very grumpy bears!!!

** Josh just got home and told me that it's a mama and baby bear cub!!!

---

Uncle Peter:


The boys have an honorary uncle here in Marshall.
 Poor Peter is such a good sport.  
These boys (my three, plus the boys' buddy Michael) practically maul him whenever they see him.

Here they have tied him up and "taken him to jail"...
Wyatt's favorite thing to do with Peter is to race and crash into the walls of the gym.  
Those boys adore him.  
And I'm always grateful when he runs them out of energy for me!

---

Saturday Social:


Saturday Social means treats for my boys...
Usually a slushee and a popcorn.
But sometimes there's a line...
And patience is not their strongest virtue...





 Ha!

Even though they get rowdy, I love Saturday Social. I love the chance for the boys to run, jump, play and be with other kiddos.





---

I don't know if you remember, but a while back, maybe a month or so, I was struggling, really struggling, with parenting.  The boys were tantruming, fighting every direction and breaking every rule, and I just felt exhausted!

Well the last few weeks have brought with them some brotherly love, and I couldn't be more thankful.
 You know I pour myself into my kids, thinking about them even after they are asleep, hoping I am doing right by them, making changes I think are necessary and praying for guidance to raise them up right.

So when they are mean, angry, unkind and disobedient, I feel as if I'm failing.

On the flip side of that coin, when I see glimpses of kindness and selflessness, I cheer inside, feeling proud that the lessons I'm teaching are getting in.

It's nice to be seeing some of my hard work paying off lately!

---

Little brother is officially a big boy!

 This is a picture of Wyatt's first meal at the table with us!
We have since gotten rid of his high chair, and he is eating with us exclusively.

 The transition was really smooth,

 and he loves being part of the family at meal times.

He is also fully potty trained now, although to be safe I have him in Pull Ups or diapers at bed or nap time.  But he hasn't had an accident in probably two weeks!  We gave him Candy Corn as an incentive, and let me tell you, it worked!

---

Monday Josh was home because I had a migraine.  As the afternoon wore on, my headache lessened and I wanted to take advantage of Josh being home. I remembered that I had wanted him to see if the side could come off Wyatt's crib turning it into a toddler bed. 

So we moseyed upstairs and he pulled the side off no problem.  

I guess I had thought it wouldn't work because once he took it off, I was like, "Oh! Are we doing this? Right now!?!" But we figured there's no time like the present, and we aren't sure yet what our situation will be this summer, but if we need him to sleep in a big boy bed, it would be nice to train him here at home where he's most comfortable.

He only got out of bed one time that night at bedtime, and twice in the night.  The next day he wasn't allowed to watch Despicable Me 2 (his favorite movie of all time) since he didn't stay in bed. And you best better believe the next night he stayed in bed!!!

{Jack}
 I swear to you, this child is the reward for all the painful work we did with the twins.  Taking away his binky, the breast, his high chair and then doing potty training and now sleep training in a toddler bed have all been so easy!!!

{Logan}
I'm not sure if Wyatt has actually been challenging, but in comparison to the twins he is easy, or if because of Wyatt's easy temperament, things have been actually better... All I know is that I feel lucky to have done it this way. With the twins first and the singleton second!

 ---

Daddy:

We love daddy around these parts.  He's been super busy wrapping up his second to last class for his masters degree, working on the yearbook and doing state testing at work.

The boys have missed him.  So when he's home, they are like moths to a flame!

Josh and I are both excited he only has one more class, and we are excited that summer is coming (38 more days!!!) and along with it a much deserved break for him.

 ---

Decorating for Easter:

 My sister-in-law, who doubles as my bestie, sent me amazing Easter decoration our first year up here.  Each year we enjoy decorating the easter egg tree she sent.  This year the boys did it completely independently.  It was really cute!

---

Nice weather:

 With the arrival of nice weather, we have been spending a lot of time playing out.

 

 We've also enjoyed beautiful, icy mornings.

---

Saturday Social (again):

Wyatt & Josh heading up the back stairs Saturday morning before Saturday Social.

 Jack waiting for Daddy, who has the key!

 The view from the back door we go in to get our shoes on in Josh's classroom.  It's so amazing to me (still) that we live here!!!

After Saturday Social, Josh usually stays to clean up and I take the boys home.  Last Saturday we walked home with Leah, my Marshall bestie!
I heart that girl!

---

Haircuts:

 As I've mentioned before, I am the resident hair stylist in the Cunningham household.  Normally I use the clippers to cut the twins and Josh's hair, and use scissors to cut Wyatt's.

 But this is the last haircut I have Wyatt with scissors.  Last week we transitioned him to a big boy haircut, complete with clippered sides.  

---

My clean sink secret:

 Softscrub.
Use some softscrub on a warm, wet sponge, and your sink will shine like nobody's business!

---

My crafty boy:

 Jack has been really into crafting lately. I love it.  His favorite is to use my glue gun.  It doesn't matter what he's using it for, he just loves that thing!

---

Child photography:

Logan loves taking pictures like his mama.
These two are courtesy of him.

 ---

Technology:

The boys love to use my phone or the ipod or their pretend phones to send texts and emails.  They usually say "poop" or their brothers' name, plus poop.  Classic.

---

Painted Frames:

I can't remember where I got these wooden picture frames... I either bought them this summer, or Josh's mom sent them.  Anyway, the boys had fun painting them and then choosing the pictures they wanted inside.  After they were dry, I hung them over Jack's bed.  He was thrilled!

---

Mommy:

 I am so excited to work on getting the blog caught up. I'm not too far behind, but I really wanted to share all these pictures, so thank you for bearing with me.

 Looking at these pictures today, gathering my thoughts and remembering all these moments shared with my boys reminds me how blessed I am.  What a charmed life I live.

~