Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

A few lessons ...

Do you remember in the 90's those posters titled "All I Need to Know about Life I Learned in Kindergarten"? There were a few variations, but that's one that I remember being hung on the wall in one of my high school classrooms (why, I'm not sure). Lately, I've had a few little lessons about life I don't want to forget and wanted to jot them down somewhere, although admittedly, they probably wouldn't make a super cute poster.

Leaving Preschool last week Landon had a car in his bag that I didn't remember if it was ours or not. He was SO SURE it was. We have approximately enough to fill a bathtub, so I genuinely didn't know. Not wanting him to take something home that wasn't his I kept asking if he was sure. Finally, (still not convinced) we decided to ask his teacher. She assured me that it was his, and that ultimately, if he really knew it was that I should believe him. It might seem simple, because as a parent I always believe in him. But do I believe him? That matters to him now, and it will matter a lot more later. I hope I always can believe him, but ultimately it won't matter if he doesn't know that I will.

This morning on the way to preschool pickup I turned on the radio. Liam started hollering "NO!!!" from the back seat. How on earth are they so opinionated about the music so young?! Then he started saying "Temple, Temple!" He wanted to listen to "I love to see the Temple" on the Primary CD. Well, I certainly can't argue with that. As soon as I turned it on he quieted down to listen. I'm grateful for the lesson that the songs playing in the car matter, and that testimonies begin being built at birth. 

We went to the Blake Shelton concert last weekend and the Jim Gaffigan show this weekend ... and had so. much. FUN!  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the everyday and forget to have fun together, just the two of us. But doing things like that - and finding new things we love together - makes us stronger. And I want my boys to see that mommy and daddy like hanging out together.

I attempted making home made cinnamon rolls this morning. I've never tried before ... I'm a little terrified to make things that are supposed to rise (if you knew my failed history at this you'd understand). But I thought Conference weekend deserved homemade cinnamon rolls. And they turned out AMAZING. Sometimes you just have to try something new ... 

I love listening to General Conference. I feel like I actually get more out of reading them later with Jeff, but listening to them actually speak is wonderful and strengthens me also. This last weekend there was a talk that included a strong message about prayer. Something I do each day, but I sometimes wonder how sincere they are. It's not as though I'm trying not to be sincere ... but it happens. It reminded me that as a parent it's my strongest tool. It's something we should be teaching our children and it's something we should be using each and every day to make us better. And we should include the mundane things ... those things make up our lives, and ultimately our Heavenly Father wants to know about those things.  

I also came away from conference with a strong impression that as a mom I have to make the best decisions (with Jeff of course) for my family, even if those aren't everyone else's choices. As a working mom I have sometimes felt like there are two categories of women in the church - stay at home moms and women who have no choice but to work - and nothing else existed. This time I felt very strongly that whatever we choose for our family, as long as we have really prayed about it and following the promptings of the spirit, is just fine. It still might not be the most common in Utah, but that's ok too. So, for now, this is what works for our family ... and that's just great. 

Speaking of family, we were out to lunch with my sis-and-bro-in-law a couple of months ago and were talking about teaching the gospel. Our young missionaries are expected to really know the gospel when they leave. I made a comment (thinking from the perspective of being in the Primary Presidency) that we have a huge responsibility in our callings to teach the children/youth. She answered, "Think of what they need to learn at home." It stopped me in my tracks. She's right. What are our children learning at home? And how can we do better? What a great example to me ... she has five great kids, two of which are already missionaries. All are great examples to their cousins. 

There are my profound life lessons for now :)!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lots of Learning Around Here

It's back to school time!! Luckily since Landon is still in Preschool he didn't go back until after Labor Day, which was so nice - it helped us feel like we really got to finish summer out right. He was SO excited about his first day!

He's going to Mother Goose Preschool. The week before school his teacher held a fun social for the class to meet each other, and a meet and greet for us so the parents and kids could explore the classroom without the first-day jitters! Here he is with his teacher, Karen Daniels. They actually have a few teachers, so the 16 kids always have at least two teachers at all times (we loved that about them!). And naturally, all the teachers have nicknames, which the kids love!

No need to worry about jitters around here! He was so excited he was practically jumping up and down to get out of here and get on with his first day.There is a tiny part of me that wishes he at least pretended he was going to miss me, but I love that he is so eager and so confident. He had to have these "cool" red shoes to wear on the first day, which I love ... he's so much like Jeff and I :)!

Oh he looks so grown up ... 
So far he LOVES it. The first day was butterfly day (that's the name of his class), and after school we went to a park to a have a picnic to celebrate. He also had a "homework" sheet to do, which he took really seriously. He told me, "mom, please tell all my friends who come to play that I'm busy doing my homework." It only took him a few minutes, but when a friend's mom texted about playing he insisted that I tell them he needed a few more minutes to do his homework! I'm going to remind him of that in a few years ...

A couple of weeks in he still loves it and is eager to go and loves telling me all about it after. I'm so glad! He had a great experience in Joy School, which I think helped set him up, and ultimately that's what we want for both our boys - to love learning. This preschool is known to help give kids a good start on reading. And with the first set of sight-word books coming home it was all I could do to not push him. He did great with them ... but I know he's so close to reading (and already has some of the sight words down), but I have to keep reminding myself to just let him be little ... and that I want him to love school, not dread it. But at the same time when I hear him sounding words out, I get SO excited. 

Other than school we've had some other big learning experiences lately ... Landon is practicing his two wheel bike without training wheels. It's coming along ... he's still a ways off, but he's doing well, and can go for short distances already. And he's loving soccer this season! He scored two goals at his game on Saturday, and still loves it. I asked if there was something he wanted to try when his season ends and he said "no ... I just want to play soccer." Super cute! But I think I'll still try something this winter to expand his horizons a bit!
Landon isn't the only one learning around here. Liam took a few steps after he was 18 months, but when he hit 19 months and was still not walking we started to get worried. His little feet point out pretty badly, which makes his little ankles roll his feet to really flat position. I made him an appointment (which naturally in between making it and having the appointment is when he started walking more), and his pediatrician agreed he should be seen by a specialist. There is a program called Kids on the Move, which is an early intervention program run through the school district. He was tested by them to determine if he needs to see a physical therapist. 

He tests really low on gross motor skills (no surprise there!) but not low enough to qualify for services. Their physical therapist gave us some great tips - like have him wear shoes all the time, and try using a baby stroller so he thinks he has more help than what he does - which have really helped. He's already doing SO much better! And he loves the stroller ... it's super convenient to carry snacks and trucks around in. (Luckily we have friends with little girls so we didn't have to purchase one!) We are supposed to watch for a couple more months. He might still have to have inserts of some kind for his shoes, but we're hoping not.  
Who wouldn't want something to carry trucks around in?!
However, he blew them away with his verbal and comprehension tests. He tested in the 93 and 92 percentiles respectively. So, apparently we make very verbal children :)!
Liam is obsessed with pirates right now ... it's
too cute for words!
One of  absolute BEST parts of being a parent is watching kids grow and learn more. I want to keep them little, but then when they say and do cute things, or learn a new skill, I'm happy they are learning and changing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A little journey called love...

Today is our ninth anniversary. NINE YEARS! Which means, that come November, we'll have been together (counting our time dating) for a decade. Thinking about this over the last couple of weeks has made me really happy. I love this time of year that helps me reflect on a great decision ... and one of the people who helps make my life so happy. As I did I kept coming back to this picture: 

It isn't a wedding pic. Or even one of the two of us. But this, my friends, is a metaphor for our relationship. Many of you might not know, but I'm not a bike-rider. I wasn't ever great as a kid, and I have ridden one MAYBE three times since I was 12. (That's 20 years if you're doing the math, but there is NO need to dwell on that!). 

But it was time to buy Landon a bike with pedals, and Jeff loved it growing up, so we decided that maybe this would be a good thing for all of us. So we dove in ... we now all have bikes (or in Liam's case a bike trailer), helmets, and the bike carrier for the back of the car.

I know. This is serious.

But folks, isn't that what love is like? You jump in. Starry eyed. Naive. All-in. Along the way there are bumps, and bruises, and lots and lots of beautiful scenery and thrilling rides. 

I've found that I actually CAN ride a bike. I'm still not amazing. But I really, really like it. I love this new little shared hobby of ours. I love that we can look back on this time together and remember jumping all-in. And being really glad we did.

Yep, there have been bumps and bruises. Isn't that what growing together does? It bangs us up a bit. And asks us to be better people. And sometimes that's a painful, and itchy feeling. But in the end it's worth it. 

Mainly, there have been beautiful times together ... traveling together, growing up together, buying houses together, encouraging each other. Deciding to start a family together, bringing home two beautiful boys and watching them grow. 

And ultimately deciding that we love each other enough to try new things. Stretch ourselves a bit, enjoy new hobbies, and become that much more of a couple and a family.

I love this man of mine, and all that we've learned together. Happy Anniversary babe!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The things that undo us...

Do you remember that saying "it takes a village?" Generally I've always heard it in reference to raising children. I'm pretty certain Hillary Clinton even wrote a book about it once when we were just children ourselves (my generation, not Hillary's) ... but I'm honestly too spent to bother looking it up for you. Trust me. It's a saying.

Never before have I felt this so acutely, or been more grateful. Let me rewind my story a bit so it makes more sense.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling stretched thin. Not just "life is hectic like always" thin, but "at some point someone is going to poke me and I'm just going to shatter" thin. It was Kailee's last week before school started (If you don't know, Kailee is an almost-family member who has been our summer nanny/babysitter for a long time), and I had been working frantically for the past several weeks in preparation for the transition to squeeze as much in as possible. 

Everything at work had been piling up in general, and I was starting to feel like no matter how fast I race I'd never, ever catch up. And how was I supposed to without Kailee there part of the week? And how on earth was I supposed to be a good mom to my babies? Not to mention be a wife, a friend and do my calling at church...

But it was that middle sentence that had me on the verge of tears or in tears daily for a couple of weeks at that point. As fall approaches I know Landon is "only" going to Preschool, but he just seems so big lately ... like he's slipping away and growing up in leaps and bounds overnight. And Liam ... my baby! I'm not sure when his round cheeks started thinning out and when he started talking so much. Again, it's like one day he could have a "conversation" with me. In reality I know I've been there for each step, but at the same time was I really? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Then one morning I decided to go on a walk with my kiddos and the neighbors. It had been a rough morning ... for reasons I can't remember now. I'm sure I was busy trying to answer emails, but make it seem like I wasn't occupied and being short with the kids when I didn't really need to be. By the time we made it outside and were ready to go I felt like I'd run a marathon by 9 am (please keep in mind I've never technically even run an entire 5K, so I'm generalizing here :)!).

I kept trying to insist that Landon ride his new "big kid" bike we had just bought him. He was upset because it's still so new. And big. And he doesn't like change. As we were arguing (and I, being too stubborn just to admit it didn't matter - I mean WHO CARES if he wants to ride his balance bike ... it's not like we were talking about a life or death decision) my sweet neighbor came over.

She told me, ever so gently, that he had done a great job the day before when he rode his new bike with Kailee (and them). But that he was a bit slower than the other kids and might have been frustrated because he couldn't keep up like he is used to. 

And it undid me. Not because she told me. Goodness no, I was so grateful - she was that village I needed that morning. That every so gentle reminder that I needed and the ability to let go of my stupid argument and realize it was just better to be with the kids, than care what method we were using to be together. 

No it undid me because I didn't know what bike Landon had ridden the day before. That might sound silly, or stupid even. But still, almost three weeks later, it can still bring me to tears. 

I've always been a proponent of doing whatever makes you the best mom you can be. Is that working? Great! Is that staying home? Great! Is that finding middle ground? Great! Is that dedicating hours of your time to your children's school as a volunteer? More power to you!

But sometimes, those decisions just aren't so cut and dry. They aren't easy. For anyone. Whether your work is done inside the home, or outside, or in some other shape or form depending on the season you are in, it just isn't easy. No matter which way you slice it. We all make choices - the ones I hope that, given our circumstances, hopes, dreams, etc. are the best for our family and ourselves. 

I choose to live this life. But are there sometimes sacrifices associated with that choice? Absolutely.

But you know what? I know that what you are choosing right now is making you sacrifice something too. I firmly believe that. 

Maybe you put the career you love aside to stay home with babies and your days are wonderful and sweet. And maybe they feel endless sometimes. 

Maybe you are struggling to help your family make ends meet, and each time they do you are so grateful that you are still a family that it is enough. 

Maybe you love your kids more than life itself, but you also love your full time career. And you've sacrificed a lot to get where you are at, and it is best for your family. But maybe it also keeps you up thinking about what you might miss.

Maybe you decide to juggle everything you possibly can because despite the insanity sometimes, and the doubt it occasionally brings, it's just who you are. 

Whoever you (we) are, I hope, and pray, that we can all be that village to one another. I don't mind writing things but am not a great out-loud sharer. I don't like getting emotional in general. So for all the times that you have been my village - thank you. I hope, in some small way, I am yours as well. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Liam is 18 Months!

Every time I blog I swear that THIS time will be different. THIS time I will blog again in just a few days. And yet ... here we are again. Next time I'll be better.

In the mean time we have had a LOT going on around here. I'm going to skip our vacation to California completely for a bit and instead focus on our sweet Liam. Who is now 18 months old. WHAT?! How did that happen?

I just love that little face!
He lights up our whole house - we just love him to pieces. He's sweet, quite funny and has lots of spunk. You have to with an older brother who likes to wrestle. 

He loves being the center of attention ...
unless he's causing mischief,
then he'd prefer we look the other way!
He FINALLY took a few steps just after the 18 month mark. He's very happy to walk holding hands, but won't do more than a couple of steps on his own. It's coming though :)!

Talking is another matter. He is hilarious and really articulate for his age! Some of our favorites:

*Thank you (people are always surprised at his very clear, and very polite expression of gratitude)
*"K" (He loves to use this when we've finally figured out what he needs and this tells us we got it right)
*When he "sings" Popcorn Popping or Happy and You Know It
*Pirate (no joke, cutest thing ever). He also loves the Jake and the Neverland Pirates theme song and will sing along.
*Fut nack (Fruit Snack)
*Wuv ooo (Love you)
*Kaeee (Kailee), Husson (Hudson), Memy (Emery) and Doo (Drew) - All his little friends
*Bemple (Temple), Pair (Prayer) and Jesus
*Fork, truck and shark ... naughty, I know, but sometimes an accidental swear word is just funny
*He also makes a LOT of animal noises. He's quite prolific at them :)!

We also love that he calls Landon (which he tries to say, but hasn't really gotten down yet) "bruder." The other day Landon did something to tick Liam off (as he's wont to do from time to time). And Liam came crawling up the stairs to "tattle" on Landon hollering "BRUDER! BRUDER!" while pointing down the stairs with all the righteous indignation his little self could muster. I tried really hard not to but I laughed. It was too cute!
Brothers are the best superheros ...

Liam LOVES to be outside and he's fearless! There isn't any slide to fast, or water too deep that he isn't confident he can't handle just fine on his own (scary!!). He loves books and will let you read to him endlessly. He loves to play with the big kids, his most recent favorites are playing Pirates and trains. 
Us and our baby!!
He has his spunky moments as well ... he's VERY opinionated. Really, really wants his own way (and has already tried out throwing fits), and has been known to bite if something is in his way. He's a great eater - we are very concerned about our future grocery bills. Here he is eating off of all four kids' plates at the dinner table that night! 

No signs of stopping!
He also has the sweetest side to him too. He loves to cuddle and give kisses. He sucks his left thumb, and his lovey is a blanket he has dubbed his "night-night." We love him so much and are so glad he's part of our family!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Our Little Pirate Turns FOUR!


How are you FOUR already?! My gosh - it seems like just yesterday you changed our lives by making us your mommy and daddy. I have a feeling I'll be still saying that that when you are fourteen and twenty four also though ... 
Presents from mom & dad on your actual birthday!
You are just delightful! You are smart, and funny and so articulate (and talkative!). People stop to tell us all the time that they are so surprised you are barely just four. You have the cutest grin and an infectious laughter. You make us laugh all the time with the things you say and do ... sometimes you are trying to be funny (just like your daddy) and sometimes you aren't, but you end up making us laugh anyways.

You LOVE Joy School and have learned so much this year. And Miss Stepper says you are her best singer! You are already starting to sound words out (always eager to grow up!), and you are curious about everything around you. You keep us on our toes - that's for sure!

I think the thing that amazes me and humbles me the most is your natural curiosity about the gospel. You love Primary (and have awesome Sunbeam teachers), and have learned so many Primary songs - it's your favorite CD to listen to in the car. You ask us really good questions and remember the answers! You teach us new things every day. 

You are such a great example to Liam! He ADORES you so much ... and watching you two play is like watching two little tiger cubs. It's a crack up :)! We love it and pray you are always so close. My very favorite is when you read together, or when you are "helping" him say the prayer. What a great brother you are!

You are about to start another season of soccer, you're learning to ride your scooter, and you've made SO many new friends this year! We can't wait to see what adventures this year will bring us.

Landon, we lived it up on your fourth birthday! You went to Joy School, where you had a party and treats, then we went to the dinosaur museum (your favorite!). That night you chose to have dinner at McDonald's (or Mic-a-donalds as you call it!) and then you opened up your presents from us.

We always told you that when you turn four you could have your first "friend" party! You chose to have a "Jake and the Never-Land Pirates" party. It was too cute!! 

When you guests arrived they got pirate bandannas and decorated swords. Then we had a pirate treasure hunt (your daddy spent a LONG time on that cool map!) complete with a treasure-chest pinata. 

After that we sang, and had cupcakes (courtesy of Aunt Ale, who was a tireless helper) and opened presents. Your little friends were very generous to you! And then we finished off by watching "Jake" in the theater room, and sending everyone home with "pirate's booty." 

We were tired when it finished, but what a FUN time!! It was so fun to see you in your element - you are a social butterfly and LOVE having friends and family over!! Mom, dad and Liam got you lots of  "Jake" toys, and Grandma and Grandpa got you a scooter!

We love you more than you'll ever know! Thank you for the best four years ... here's to LOTS MORE FUN!!


Mom, Dad & Liam

Now for the pictures!! 

Your adorable party invites!
Our little family!
Landon - age 4, Liam - age 14 months
Cutest pirate - EVER!

Unless, maybe when there are TWO pirates!

Making your swords

Treasure hunt success (please note the X marking the
spot! And that awesome map by dad!)

Your cute friends!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Other Days

I tend to blog about the sparkly moments in family life - birthday parties, rosy cheeked children, grins on the playground and overall bliss. But today? Today I'm going to record a little bit about the "other" days. They also happen around here with regularity and I would feel remiss in not giving them a bit of airspace too. When I'm old and grey and look back lovingly at having young children I want to remember the happy days and the days where I'm pretty certain if an entire pan of brownies were sitting in front of me right now I would eat them all. 

Every. Single. Last. Brownie.

You know ... days like today. 

The ones where I'm pretty certain I should change my name. Anything will do - as long as I don't hear "Mom? Mom? MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM,"  one more time. At least until at least tomorrow.

Days when I'm tired of little friends that cause more messes for me to deal with. Or come out of the bathroom declaring "Um, I think the toilet is exploding!" (true story)

Days when fruit snacks are both my best friend and worst enemy (Do you know how many can be asked for and consumed by 3 & 4 year olds? Or how many can manage to get spilled all over the garage floor?)

Days when I struggle being patient during diaper changes ... because we've hit the age when they are an EPIC battle. The type of battle that includes lots of indignant screaming, arm flapping and twisting as if his life depends on him escaping the evil wet wipes.

Days when I just don't know if I can make it until nap time ... let alone bed time with my sanity (somewhat) intact.

And the moms who manage to never yell? Yep, I'm not one of them. This is not a fact I'm proud of. But unfortunately it's a fact of life. I yell. Some days more than I want to.  We always talk about the situation after, in calm tones. But my kids have definitely heard me yell a time or two (possibly today alone). 

You might think I'm bad, or crazy. But I hope there is a force of of moms out there that think, "yep, sounds about right." If so, please feel free to band together with me and repeat "we can do this!" together. 

I'll bring the brownies.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's the Little Things

Friday night we made calzones and rented Turbo for a family movie night. And it turned out to be one of those nights I hope I never forget. 

We spread out a blanket picnic-style on the floor of the basement and settled in to watch. Turbo is a cute movie about a snail who dreams about being in the Indy 500 - lots of race cars and hip hop music are involved. 

Jeff and I had so much fun just watching the kids watch the movie. Landon was so into it he stood up half the time ... and had to turn on his race car track and race cars in the middle of it. Any time music came on Liam started dancing in his high chair while still shoveling food in his mouth (his whole calzone, fruit and then a LOT of popcorn ... he's a bottomless pit!). 

We kept exchanging looks that said, "they are so cute!" and "aren't we lucky to have such sweet kids!" There are so many parenting moments that are wonderful, and some that aren't quite so wonderful, but in that moment the world was perfect. We were together and happy, and I wanted to freeze that moment in time. Unfortunately that isn't possible, so instead, I'll write it down and remember these beautiful, simple, wonderful moments with our two favorite little guys.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Liam is officially one!! I've been putting off writing this post because that makes it more real somehow. I'm always surprised at how quickly time goes, but Liam's first year seems to have gone quicker than any other time in our lives, and honestly it makes my heart break a little. 

This guy stole our hearts a year ago. He took us by storm and we all fell in love instantly. And how could we not?

Liam is the happiest baby. He loves to be loved on. And he loves us - each in different and very noticeable way. He's a mama's boy through and through. If I'm an option to put him to bed, that was exactly what happened. And I LOVE IT! Life has been busier with two, and every second he wants me, or insists I put him to bed is a special moment just for us. 

He has figured out that dad is the fun one! He loves to wrestle and play rough already. He loves to roll or throw a ball, play cars and ride on his horsey - and he knows that dad is always up for a fun time. And daddy is always willing to read a lot of stories!

And boy, does Liam LOVE Landon! It's the sweetest thing - those two together. They already wrestle and play rough, but will also sit together and play cars or read so sweetly. Landon is always so eager to go get Liam up in the morning, and Liam doesn't want to go to sleep without loves from Landon. He lights up when Landon comes into the room! 

In addition to being super sweet, Liam isn't afraid to share his opinion, or let us know how he feels. He also already thinks he has quite the sense of humor. He loves books and to be read to, and is very pleased with his page-turning skills. He wants to be one of the big kids so badly - he plays well in the same area and is just happy to be a part of things. 

I love his smile! It's contagious. At one he had three bottom teeth, and his gums look like several more aren't far off.

He started crawling at 11 months, and is delighted by his new skill. I love it when he starts laughing in delight when crawling fast. He is already pulling himself up on things, so we'll see how soon walking comes. He hasn't mastered the stairs yet, but isn't afraid to go right up to them and look over the edge. He LOVES to dance - anytime music is on, he's moving to the beat.

Liam folds his arms in the absolutely CUTEST way possible. And is good about reminding the rest of us to say a blessing on the food. Melts my heart.

He will sign more, all done and please (sometimes). He's also starting to try to say words. "Mama" means most things now. Like Mama, more milk ... and pretty much that he wants whatever he is pointing at (but if you saw his chubby finger pointing, you would be tempted to give him anything he wants also). If you ask him what a cow says he'll say "mmmm." Again, so stinking cute! He also says dada and ba for "brother." 

For his first birthday bash we went to Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point so he could ride the ponies. Then we had dinner at the cafe and came home for presents and dessert. We didn't go the traditional route, because Liam LOVES brownies and mint ice cream - so that's what we had! He didn't hesitate to dig right in ... our little bitty loves to eat!

We love you Liam, and are so glad you are part of our family!!

(Disclaimer: Picture overload ahead ... I have taken thousands of pictures of this cute boy, but not been nearly as good at blogging them - so here goes!)