Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Grace

The week after I have a baby is always a particularly tender time for me.
The combination of recovery, hormones, and overwhelming new-baby love leaves me feeling incredibly vulnerable.
After Benson was born, Sam was able to take several days off and I spent most of the time sitting in bed, cuddling our precious new little one while he took care of everything else.
At one point during those tender hours I came across this song,
and the words pierced my soul.

"At times I may grow weak
And feel a bit discouraged
Knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.
For who am I to serve you?
I know I don't deserve you.
And that's the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on."

I listened tearfully and felt those words expressed not only to my Heavenly Father,
but to each one of our children.
Someone, somewhere, could surely do a better job of mothering these little boys.
Who am I to serve them?
And as I looked at my crinkly new baby, curled up asleep in my arms, I surely thought, "I know I don't deserve you."

And yet, here we are.
Here I am.
They have been given to me to nurture, to teach, to raise, and to love unconditionally.
And despite my flaws, my Savior keeps picking me up and I mother in His daily sufficient grace.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Not Calm, But Happy


Today in Primary one of the teachers asked the kids what activities they enjoyed doing with their families.
The responses were what you'd expect:
play games, read, play video games, etc.
Then she called on Lincoln.
"I like when we do cannon balls into the pouf from the stairs or the art table!"
he said joyfully.

Her eyes widened.
"Wow! That sounds...crazy! And fun!" she said, glancing over at me in amusement.

That pretty much sums up life at our house...
not calm, by any means--
but happy kids, in general.
'Cause really...who can resist cannon balls into the pouf??

Just do me a favor and let me know before you stop by, mmm-kay?
Because happy kids and a clean house often seem to be at odds with one another.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Found Something Delicious


Benson is now 2 months old
(and 14 1/2 pounds!),
which means that every so often I have a day when I feel like I'm pretty on top of things.

But then I'm quickly humbled by a sequence of days when I'm falling asleep spontaneously,
my to-do list is largely untouched,
the laundry is stacking up,
my hair is a wreck,
and (to quote Rachel Jankovic) my floors look like the bottom of the toaster.

This week has been more like the latter description,
and this morning I shut myself in my bedroom and nursed the baby and took care of some administrative things that have been neglected for too long.
(Like filing a claim with the bank...anyone else super sad about Zaycon's bankruptcy??)
I was having a "bad mom" moment, mentally...feeling badly about my lack of attention toward my kids this week.
I was on hold on the phone, they were playing something outside, Maxwell desperately needed a diaper change and was still wearing his pajama shirt, and the couch cushions and pillows were strewn about the living room.

And then there was a little knock at my door.
"Mom, I found something delicious in the fridge...can we share it?"
Further probing revealed the nature of the treasure:
a Milka Oreo candy bar from the package my mom had sent for Valentine's Day.
Bad mom guilt overrode the usual rules regarding candy
(plus, I should encourage sharing, right?!)
and I called out, "Sure!" and then finished my business in the bedroom before emerging to confront the disaster that surely awaited me.

Pictures were taped on the wall outside the bedroom door and secretive smiles were exchanged between the boys as Talmage called out, "Wait, Mom!! We're not done!"
I was banished back to my bedroom to await their knock signaling me to come out,
and the boys finished their surprise.
When their telltale knock rang out, I opened the door to be showered with a cupful of homemade confetti.
Pictures and cards from the boys adorned the wall, proclaiming me the "Mom of the Year!" and thanking me for the chocolate bar.
They had even recruited Maxwell to scribble on a crumpled piece of paper.
Wesley burst into a song from his Kindergarten program, singing out, "Weeee appreciate you, we think you are NEAT! Weeeee appreciate you, yeah, you can't be BEAT! You make us so happy in the things you say and do, oh, we-eeee appreciate YOU!"

It all pushed me to think, once again, of how undeserving I am of these little people.
Quite honestly, they're often the sweetest when I am at my worst.

Also, with a response like this...should I maybe revisit our policy about candy-eating?!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Overton Park

Memphis has a couple of really amazing, innovative parks that I have come to love!
One day before school was out, I took Lincoln, Maxwell, and Benson to Overton Park to check out Rainbow Lake Playground. It was so cool!!
From the awesome elevated rope bridge to the tuned drum circle to the metal sculptures you could dump gravel into to make a fun musical sound, the entire park was so fun and well kept up.
The trees and the lake were gorgeous, the swings were relaxing, and the large maze of walkways with telephone pipes was entertaining.
I was just wishing I had brought my camera, but my phone had to suffice!

When we first moved here, I didn't think we would do too much in the downtown area of Memphis because I had read so much hype about the crime.
But the more we venture out, the more I discover what an amazing city it is and how unscary most of it is.
It's a great place for our family right now!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Random Bits and Pieces

I used to have a blog where every so often I would do a big photo dump
to update our families about what was going on while we lived away.
Then I transitioned to this blog and for a while I was good at posting every weekday.
Life's circumstances have changed such that I'm no longer very consistent at posting,
but I often find myself going back to read about those little daily moments that I never want to forget.

So, for my own family record, I'm doing another big, random photo dump.
If you're not someone who is interested in the little, inconsequential moments of our lives,
this is your cue to stop reading.
For everyone else, here is life lately!

We've been visiting a lot of parks lately and Maxwell loves the swing!
We also run into problems if ANYONE else has a ball because Maxwell thinks all the balls in the world belong to him and only him.

We're just so lucky to have him...is it any wonder the boys get so excited when he comes home??
The instant he walks in the door he is changing dirty diapers, setting the table, and throwing happy little boys into the air.

It was such a treat to have my mom here when Benson was born! The boys ate up every second of grandma-spoiling. We just finished an awesome week with my sister here, Sam's mom and sister are coming in July, and another of my sisters is coming in August! We have tentative plans for yet another sister of mine to come in September as well and we are just LOVING all of these out-of-town visitors. It makes living away so much more enjoyable when we get visits from our loved ones!

Maxwell is just such a riot. He is always doing things to spur oodles of laughter from the rest of us.

These photos were taken when Benson was just 5 days old. Newborn sleepy smiles make my heart feel inclined to burst!

The boys love Benson so much. They are constantly in his face, cuddling him and kissing him and laughing at his every move. It is a delight!

Benson spends a LOT of time in his swing. I feel kind of bad about it sometimes, but he loves it and with 4 other kids, I need my hands free often--especially in the morning and at bedtime, so he spends hours every day happily sleeping and swinging. (I still spend lots of hours every day cuddling him, though, so don't think he's neglected!) It's been a blessing to have this swing. I got it at a garage sale for $15, I think, before Lincoln was born. When I pulled it out of the attic before Benson was born I was really disappointed that it was no longer working. I like THIS particular swing because it has a tray (to protect baby from Maxwell's love), it has a static/white noise sound that my babies have loved, and it swings front to back while most modern swings go side to side. This swing is no longer sold though, and I wasn't thrilled with the other options I was finding online because I was so attached to this one! A few days after he was born I was trying to fix it and I discovered it needed a new motor and that part is no longer available to order. Thanks to new baby hormones, I was so sad about it I started crying! Poor Sam thought he had done something wrong when he found me sniffling at the computer desk, swing parts strewn about me. Eventually I found another swing online that looked like it used a similar part. I called the company and they told me it wouldn't fit even though it looked the same and the part wasn't available for order. I went out on a limb and ordered the full swing from Target and when it arrived the part fit! It just didn't quite lock into place the same way. The rest of the swing had lots of frills and bells and whistles I didn't like, so I kept the rest of it in the package and pulled out the parts I needed. It was a long process and a ridiculous amount of money to pay just to get one little part to use, but it was worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY.

Tennessee has burst into bloom and it is beautiful!! There are so many gorgeous flowering trees around here and of course I adore the magnolias with their huge white flowers. This picture of Lincoln was taken at a recent ward party at the home of some of our friends. They live on about 2.5 acres with their own pond, beehive, a pet bunny and a pig, some chickens, and lots of fruit growing around. The kids played volleyball and fished in the pond and had a grand time. We LOVE seeing our dream properties like this (and the amazing house prices are definitely appealing as well...).

One of the things we did for Sam's birthday was to go to a paint-your-own-pottery place. Sam made this clever cereal bowl with different cereal labels around the sides! The staff thought it was so cute, and the boys think it's the greatest. I made a little vase for all the weed bouquets the boys bring me with lemons to remind me to focus on the sweet moments with children when things are sometimes challenging.

Maxwell...did I mention he's entertaining?? On Sam's birthday I made his cake and was letting Wesley and Lincoln lick the bowl. I walked into the dining room and discovered Maxwell using a fly swatter to scoop out his share of the batter from the bowl! Needless to say, I didn't take a picture but instead snatched the nasty fly swatter away and gave him a spoon. Yuck!

On Memorial Day we went on a fun family bike ride! We came home hot, sweaty, and very ready for popsicles.

There are several restaurants around here where you can get multiple free kids' meals with the purchase of an adult meal. Our favorites are IKEA, Firehouse Subs, and McAlister's Deli. They make for fun, cheap family dates!

Maxwell has been eating up all the brother time this Summer. He LOVES his brothers and they are so good with him. About 2 weeks after Benson was born, we transitioned him into a twin bed from his crib, so now there are 2 sets of bunk beds in the boys' room and he loves being in with the big boys!

It has been fun to watch Talmage participate in Scouts this past year. He has loved it all and it is one of the #1 things that helped him with our move. He just finished a super fun week at day camp that ended with a mud pit! These pictures were taken at a bike rodeo they had for pack meeting one week.

It's so fun to watch the progress being made on the Memphis temple! It is right next to our church building so we get to see it multiple times each week. We're so excited for it to re-open next year!

One night Talmage wanted to sleep in a box. "Why not?" I thought. I checked on the boys before going to bed and found that Talmage had fallen out of bed and was sleeping with his lower half still in the box, standing on his head! We all had a good laugh over it when I showed the boys the picture in the morning!

Wesley made Sam this birthday card. Oh, my heart!

This is what happens when your 1-year-old "helps" by filling the soap compartment of the dishwasher with liquid dish soap. So many bubbles overflowed out of the dishwasher!!

I've been so glad to have my energy back since Benson's birth and be able to have the boys do chores again. We've been semi-good about doing them this Summer, which is a big improvement over doing them never which is where we were at! They enjoy their weekly night to make dinner with me!

5 little boys out with me running errands is quite a spectacle and I almost always get comments from passers-by! The boys get a "point" every time someone gives me a compliment about their behavior. The "points" aren't worth anything--they just enjoy keeping track of their running total. They have earned lots of points this Summer! Here is Wesley at the car shop, chilling on the couch with a book while an enormous elk stands guard.

We're still working on furnishing/decorating our house. The boys love the open spaces to play "snowball dodgeball" with Daddy (with little stuffed snowballs) or tag. I love seeing scenes like this one!

Benson is now 2 months old and is getting quite chubby and adorable! He looks like he'll have blue eyes and blonde hair, and we usually thinks he looks the most like Wesley although he sometimes resembles other brothers too.

So there ya have it.
These are some of the little, simple, everyday moments that make my world go 'round.
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