Monday, December 14, 2015

Snow Day

Between the nasty colds we've had since before Thanksgiving,
a stomach virus,
and a horrid case of pink eye that made its way around the family this past week,
we've pretty much just completed "essentials" for the past little while.

But over the past couple of weeks we have managed to:
-visit Temple Square to see the stunning lights
-complete my piano recital
(Talmage performed for the first time along with my other 11 students, and my eyes were still slightly scary but better enough to carry out the big breakfast spread I planned for the 50ish attendees)
-continue our nightly Christmas-story reading
-work with Wesley on reading lessons--he's making such quick progress and I'm so proud of him!
-celebrate Sam's completion of a brutally busy semester
-...and as I sit here, tapping my fingers on the keyboard, nothing much else beyond our normal day-to-day life is coming to mind.

Projects, updating this blog, writing in my journal...
they've all been resting on the back burner,
and that's perfectly okay with me!
We've been forced to slow down and focus only on top priorities,
which has brought a peace and simplicity to the season.

This morning we were all feeling much better,
so we enjoyed the 12+ inches of snow that dumped down,
built a snowman,
and came inside for hot chocolate and cinnamon sticky buns.

I think our snowman needs a companion, though--
perhaps Daddy can help the boys make a girl version?

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Peace Christmas Brings (+Traditions)


Christmas time is just so magical with kids!
Each day brings new excitement as they count down the days, marvel at the light displays they see, and enjoy holiday traditions.
In fact, last night as we drove home Talmage declared, "This is the best night of my whole life!"
"Why?" I responded.
"Because of all the lights!!!" he replied with conviction.

I love being able to experience childhood again through their eyes.
Each night, we cuddle up on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree,
and we unwrap a Christmas storybook to read.
I only add a couple of new ones to the collection each year,
but since I keep the books boxed up during the rest of the year they all have a newness about them.
The boys get so excited to open that gift each night.
And then, a quietness descends upon my busy crew,
and together we travel into a magical land through poignant words and stunning pictures.
It's one of the best parts of each day!
This year, we added this book to our collection and have been reading from it each night as well.
I have loved sharing quotes, scriptures, and stories from Christmases past centered on a different value for each night.
And each night, I marvel at the peace that we feel in that moment.
Last night it was so peaceful that my busy 2-year-old even drifted off to sleep in my lap
as he sat transfixed by the lights on the tree.

This is just one of our many Christmas traditions we enjoy.
You can read about many of our other traditions in this post from last year.
I am so grateful for this time of year!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Testing Emotional Literacy

This little exercise had very few purposes aside from my own entertainment.
One could argue that there were psychological benefits, though, right?
Even if the psychological benefits came as I laughed at my expressive boy's faces?

Happy/Sad

Mad/Surprised

Nervous/Excited

Tired/Just Because He's Wesley

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stress-Free

It seems to happen almost every year.
I start thinking about Christmas in, ohhh, about June.
I start listening closely to conversations to pick up on ideas for gifts,
I start my search for the perfect gifts at the best prices for my kids,
and I work hard to get most of my presents before Thanksgiving to ensure a stress-free holiday season where we are focused on our family traditions and the meaning of the season.

And then, about a week before Thanksgiving,
my brain seems to explode with ideas.
As the Christmas season nears, I suddenly take on too many projects
and my stress-free season falls apart.
I feel torn between creating things I know will make my family happy
and creating family memories with more time and less exhaustion and busyness.

Late last night I sat on the family room floor, immersed in one such last-minute Christmas project,
and I considered how rushed I was
and wondered whether another project I had planned was worth the 50+ hours I knew it would take,
while I knew it would excite my children and bring about more purpose and direction to our celebrations.
And then, in a matter of moments, I let it go.
In fact, I let another pending project go, too.
Because the projects I was pursuing will bring smiles next year, too,
and postponing them will allow me to enjoy and experience their smiles this year
a little more fully.

And there are an awful lot of smiles around here:

Here's to a peaceful holiday season!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Day at the Farm


Brr! With occasional snow flurries, biting wind, and glistening white mountains in the distance,
my kids are asking me continually if it's winter yet. It sure feels like it!
But a few weeks ago, it was still warm and sunny and Fall felt more like early Summer.
It was on a day with gorgeous weather that we took the kids to a local pumpkin patch and farm to play.
My wonderful sister wanted to get the kids an experience-type gift for their birthdays,
so she paid for us to go to this farm.
It was a lovely outing!

We enjoyed the corn maze, the giant slides, climbing hay bales (a favorite memory of mine from my childhood trips to my grandparents' farm), swinging in tire swings, riding on the tractor train, seeing the animals, looking at the wide variety of pumpkins, squash, gourds, and other produce, watching a strange goat with no ears climb the ramp to the chicken coop and start eating the chicken food, and appreciating Lincoln's black eye+scratched eye (welcome to 2-year-old life).

Fall memories make for some of the best, don't you think?
Thanks, Breanne!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Perks of Being Married to a Cancer Scientist


On one of our first Sundays attending our new congregation after we moved back to Utah,
I became reacquainted with a friend from long ago!
Amberly was my next-door neighbor's cousin when I was young,
and we attended the same elementary school for a year or two.
She ended up moving to a different city,
but now, nearly 20 years later, our paths have crossed again!

Amberly has a blog called A Prioritized Marriage, where she writes all about marriage--her experiences, advice, research, and commentary on other articles.
One thing I've really enjoyed lately is her "Perks of Being Married to my Spouse" series.
She has invited other bloggers to write about the perks related to their spouses' jobs or other unique characteristics.
Sam's PhD and postdoctoral fellowship programs have been pretty demanding.
Amberly's series helped me take a step back and think about how we benefit from his specific position.
And once I started thinking about it, I actually came up with a long list of things I loved!
I whittled down my list to some of the biggest perks, and today my thoughts were posted on her blog--check out "The Perks of Being Married to a Cancer Scientist" here!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When Heaven Is Near

I'm not sure there have been any moments in my life when I've felt closer to Heaven than when I have held each one of my newborn babies in my arms and stared in awe at their perfect little features.
That feeling is indescribable.
I have a mountain of thoughts I could share about the relationship between pregnancy, motherhood, and divine love,
but suffice it to say that I am confident that much of the reason I have felt so deeply bonded with each of our children from the start is because I have sacrificed so tremendously for them.

Last week, I met my precious, brand-new baby nephew.
I'm looking forward to taking his newborn photos this week,
but today I wanted to share a few images from my sister's maternity photo shoot.

The day we had planned to do it was overcast and rainy and we nearly called it off.
We decided to try despite the poor weather, and the sky worked in our favor!
The rain stopped, the clouds spread and let in some beautifully filtered light, a pink glow tinged the horizon even though we were hours away from sunset, and the beginnings of a rainbow even appeared off in the distance!
We set up the photo shoot with the rocking chair my dad gave my mom as a wedding gift (and in which she rocked and sang to all seven of her babies) and a quilt my great-grandmother (born in 1900) completely hand-stitched. (Even the pattern on it is all cross-stitched.)

The photos represent the heritage of selfless motherhood we share and hope to continue.
Pregnancy is difficult and often feels far from glamorous.
My sister has particularly difficult pregnancies--and this is her fourth!
I love these images because I feel that the combination of the natural elements, the props we used, and the simple background depicts the beauty of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in general.
It's hard, it's heart-wrenching, it's physically and emotionally exhausting, it requires a great deal of sacrifice and selflessness...
And yet, it is simultaneously beautiful and heavenly.

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