Saturday, October 6, 2018

Be Back Soon


We've so enjoyed the first day of General Conference together as a family!
I am continually amazed by how much the Church is changing.
I'm only 29 years old and I already feel like the organizations of the Church I knew as a teenager seem like a distant memory because things have changed so much.
It is so amazing to see how continuing revelation works to help the Church progress!

On that note, tonight our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, invited us to participate in a 10-day fast from social media.
So I will be stepping away from this blog for the next little while.

Be back soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Jane Austen or Dr. Seuss


I always get so sentimental when Fall begins.
This year I'm particularly nostalgic because on top of the usual memories of dating/falling in love that Fall brings,
we're a few months away from our 10th anniversary
and I'm turning 30 in less than a year.
So I've been given to even more reflection than usual (and that's saying something!).

In the early days of our relationship in dating and marriage,
we wrote many long, gushing e-mails to one another while we went about our duties on our college campus.
Ten years ago today, for example, just as we were falling in love:

From: Kaitlyn
To: Samuel
9/26/08
Subject: Quintessence of Your Nature

To Samuel the Magnificent:
I came across this quote and decided it epitomizes your essence, so naturally I had to show you:
"'That best portion of a good man's life [is] his . . . kindness,' said Mr. William Wordsworth ('Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey' [1798], lines 33–35). There are lots of limitations in all of us that we hope our sweethearts will overlook. I suppose no one is as handsome or as beautiful as he or she wishes, or as brilliant in school or as witty in speech or as wealthy as we would like, but in a world of varied talents and fortunes that we can't always command, I think that makes even more attractive the qualities we can command--such qualities as thoughtfulness, patience, a kind word, and true delight in the accomplishment of another. These cost us nothing, and they can mean everything to the one who receives them."     -Jeffrey R. Holland
Do you recognize the first line? :) You, however, are handsome (and beautiful, in a very manly kind of way...), brilliant in school, witty in speech, and...hmm...I guess I don't know (or really care, frankly) about wealthy! You have a wealth of...um...amazingness! The more important qualities listed above are abundant within your character, and I thank you for that! Your kindness is a continual shining example to me. Actually, all of your actions are so exemplary that I am continually 'awed and amazed,' to use the phrase of my mom. I continually look forward with excitement to be a partaker of your presence and essence. Thank you for all you do! I hope your day is absolutely exquisite!
Love,
Kaitlyn

From: Samuel
To: Kaitlyn
9/26/08
Subject: Re: Quintessence of Your Nature

To Kaitlyn the Pure:
Thanks for the wonderful quote! Your compliments make me want to live up to them, so thank you. I have learned that it takes more virtue to compliment than to be complimented. Sometimes we are tempted to impress but the people of real virtue are those that are impressed and learn from others rather than trying to impress others. You are definitely that kind of person - that compliments, that is impressed and learns from others, rather than seeking compliments and to impress, and you take "true delight in the accomplishments of another," like Elder Holland said in the quote. 
And for the record, I am a millionaire. Everyone must know this, and you most importantly. I thought the word motif you used in your last email was really impressive and poetic - with the -sence suffix (quintessence, presence, essence). Perhaps sometime I will tell you about the miracle of cellular senescence and how it prevents the formation of cancer in our bodies.
I'm grateful, so very grateful, for our relationship. I wish I could explain to you how peaceful it makes me feel. Everything about you exudes peace, happiness, sweetness, and incredible awesomeness, modesty, appropriate restraint, sweet boldness, patience, humility, and much, much more! I hope to have the pleasure of doing something with you this evening! 
Love,
Sam 


We laugh fondly as we look back on these e-mails...
(If you think these are gushy, just know that I chose some of the most mild ones.)
I have them compiled in a very large binder along with dozens of creative notes.
Just before we were married, one of my aunts remarked about our relationship, "I feel like I'm in a Jane Austen movie!"
And it's funny, because while we occasionally still have a cute note or an eloquent e-mail to add to our repertoire,
our life is currently more Dr. Seuss than Jane Austen.
But that's totally okay.
Because we have grown ever closer even as our lives have been filled to the bursting with other responsibilities.
Parenting together, as crazy as it is, has been such a unifying process.
The ups and downs and busyness of schooling and career progress have brought us closer together as we have turned to one another for counsel and strength.
The all-encompassing demands on our time right now help us cherish all the more the moments we get to focus on each other 100 percent.

Every life and every relationship has different seasons,
but our love has grown ever stronger through the changes.

So while our love is currently characterized more through kisses stolen in the middle of dish duty with children underfoot than it is by rapturous writings,
we are steadily growing closer together.

And now I'll end these sappy writings
and continue to re-live my memories to myself.
Just like I do every Fall.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Happy Fall, Y'all!

This weekend we welcomed FALL with caramel apples, pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes, about a 20 degree drop in weather, and lots and lots of RAIN.
The thunder is rumbling as I type and the pumpkins were out in the grocery store and that distinct feeling of anticipation is in the air.

It's beautiful and we are so, so happy about FALL.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Happy as a Clam

I haven't posted much about Benson lately.
He is such a sweet, happy baby.
He is starting to get pretty bored with sitting and doing nothing, though...he plants his feet and straightens his legs when he's sitting on my lap so I will stand him up and he greatly prefers it when I walk around the house with him.
Today he was a bit fussy so we went on a walk in the brutally hot weather and he was happy as a clam.
He is the most fascinated by his brothers and they totally capture his attention when they are in the room.
He loves Maxwell just as much as Maxwell loves him despite face squishes (hilarious to watch a baby squish another baby's face!), head mashes (when Maxwell cuddles with a great deal of pressure), and the way Maxwell likes to completely sit/lay on Benson. The two of them are going to be great friends.
He sleeps pretty well at night, although he still likes to eat 1-2 times per night for about 5 minutes.
I haven't done much with feeding him solids, but he has tried applesauce, mango, a smoothie (he couldn't get enough), a lime (hilarious full-body shudders!), and a tomato and he has loved it all.
He is quite chubby but really just proportionately big; he is growing out of his 9 month size clothing already, which is so strange--he's wearing clothes his brothers learned to walk in!
He is constantly clasping his hands together like in the picture below.
He is extremely ticklish but hates being tickled.
He spits up like crazy.
He is anxious to MOVE and is already starting to scoot, although without clear purpose in mind.
He's the perfect addition to this loud, busy family and we couldn't love him more.
It's been such a delightful (almost) 5 months.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mindfulness


Lately I've been working on mindful eating with myself and the kids.
When we eat, we often discuss the sources of the food we are eating.
We'll talk about bees and all the work they do to produce honey
or we'll look up peanut or oat plants and learn more about them.
We talk about how much of the world's cocoa bean harvest comes from Africa and how many cocoa bean farmers have never even tasted chocolate.

With myself, I've tried to be more mindful about why I'm eating.
Am I bored? Tired? Craving sugar? Actually hungry?
As I consider the source of my food and the processes it has gone through to be before me,
I have found myself actually being more easily physically satisfied.
Eating mindfully has helped me feel gratitude instead of gluttony and I have a new appreciation for all food, but especially plants.

Does that sound cheesy?
Maybe it does, but it's made for some interesting discussions with the boys, anyway.
So the other day Talmage was saying the breakfast prayer and he said,
"Thank Thee for the farmers who grew the wheat and thank Thee for the people who milked the cows and thank Thee for the people who pasteurized it."

Pasteurized it?
I was surprised by that one, because we hadn't ever discussed that before.
I don't know where these boys learn so many things that come out of their mouths.
Teach a child to read and you give them the world.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

So Many Rolls


One of my sisters (Hi, Breanne!) did this awesome multi-cultural book club for her nieces and nephews over the past year.
Each month she would send a book that helped the kids learn more about a different culture or life situation and then they would discuss it on video chat.
At the end of the book club, she had the amazing idea to have the kids work together to raise money to buy a goat for a refugee family in Jordan through Lifting Hands International (LHI), after reading and discussing Beatrice's Goat.

Wesley has been begging me for quite some time to have a "roll stand."
You know, like a lemonade stand, but featuring rolls because Wesley loves bread so much.

So naturally, when we were thinking of ideas for the kids to raise some money, we decided selling rolls would be a fun activity. I figured I could make a bunch of rolls, and then the boys could walk around the neighborhood and, while I watched from the sidewalk, knock on doors and explain their project. It would be a good way to meet more of our neighbors, help people learn about LHI (it was started by my friend's sister and is truly an amazing organization!), and help the boys develop some skills.
Well, I decided that before they started going door-to-door, I might post about the project on our ward Facebook page and see if there was any interest.
So I snapped a picture of the boys with some rolls (don't they look like such cute little business partners??) and put it online.
And then the orders started rolling in (no pun intended!).
More and more and MORE people were ordering rolls until I had almost more than I felt I could handle.
At last the orders stopped and we made plans to make and deliver rolls.

33 dozen rolls later I was totally exhausted, we had made deliveries alone for 4 hours, and my boys were ELATED about how much money they were able to raise for the goat.
My wallet was very full of cash as people gave more than they owed to support the good cause,
and the boys had a memory that I hope will last a lifetime.

Needless to say, we didn't walk around the neighborhood this time,
but we might try a project like this again in the future!

Only next time we better work on communicating a little better with Lincoln.
Somehow he misunderstood and thought we were raising money to buy a goat for US to have.
When he learned that wasn't true, he dissolved into tears.
Apparently he wants a mini-farm just as much as his mommy.

Thanks for the fun project, Aunt Breanne!

*****

PS-I had people asking for the recipe, ordering additional rolls, and asking me to teach them to make the rolls after they ate them. For anyone interested, here is the recipe!

Blender Rolls

Blend up:
3 eggs
1 t. salt
3/4 c. butter (not margarine)
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. yeast
2 c. very warm water

Pour liquid into a bowl containing 6 cups of flour. Mix well with a fork (it will be very sticky). Let rise 1-2 hours. (If it rises longer it will get too sticky.) Spread 1 c. of flour out on the counter and scrape dough onto it. Knead a little (add more flour if needed) and divide into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a circle about 1/2 inch thick and cut pizza style into 12 pieces. Roll into crescent rolls. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes (or until lightly browned) after letting them rise a little on pan. Rub a little butter over the tops immediately after taking them from the oven.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Dog Days of Summer

We've been enduring the dog days of Summer lately,
and popsicle time on the swing was a frequent occurrence.
BUT THEN
the weather totally surprised us by plummeting in temperatures this week.
Today it was in the 60s and it felt GLORIOUS!!!
I have been keeping the windows and door open and sitting outside, enjoying the chill on my arms and the crisp feeling in the air.

We are making plans for apple picking, caramel apple dipping, birthdays and parties, and General Conference all while feeling such nostalgia over the fact that TEN years ago we were dating and falling in love.
I always missed Utah the most at this time of year when we lived in Texas,
but here in Tennessee we still get chilly nights and the leaves change colors so I'm a happy camper.

Yesterday evening I walked into the backyard to find a number of kids from the neighborhood perched on the jungle gym, playing with the boys in the beautiful weather.
I was baking brownies inside, the baby was curled up asleep nearby, Maxwell toddled around happily pretending he was every bit as big as everyone else, and frequent melodies were performed on the piano by passers-by.
Altogether, it was a loud, busy jangle.
When it was time to tell friends good-bye and Talmage happily said, "See y'all later!"
a feeling of perfect contentment settled upon me.
I'm so grateful for change.

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