Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Day with the Dinosaurs

Yesterday we ventured out to the dinosaur park.
A few weeks ago we got this awesome deal where we got a family pass to a local nature center that includes admission to the dinosaur park, the aviary, and all of the Union Station museums all year--for just $17!
I decided that even our student-life budget could make room for that price and I anticipate a year filled with fun outings as a result.

The boys had mixed feelings about these huge dinosaurs, which moved and roared somewhat realistically.
After a while they began to really love them, and they've been playing "baby dinosaurs" this morning.

This wooly rhino was pretty interesting.
We saw real wooly mammoth hair that had been preserved in a glacier,
and huge mammoth teeth about as long as my forearm!

We had a picnic lunch and then walked around the paths for a while in the midst of more dinosaur models.
Then we headed to the sand pit, where the boys were highly entertained as they brushed sand away from dinosaur bones! This was especially a hit with Lincoln.

Kudos to my 16-year-old sister, Avalon, for adding to her driving hours on the trip!
40 hours of driving is a beast!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Because He Lives

Please enjoy this beautiful Easter message.
I don't know all of the hows and whys,
but I am so grateful for the peace that is available to me in my life.
Because He lives.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Five Things Friday-#4

It's honestly been kind of a blah week with sickness floating around the family, crazy schedules, and few outings.
But I just took a nap on a blanket in the sunshine,
it's Friday,
and with big plans for the weekend things are already seeming greatly improved!

1-This week we finished our pantry shelves. Our old ones went only along one wall instead of turning the corner, and they were more than 2 feet deep, which made it really hard to access all the food stored there. I knew I wanted to change them to corner shelves as soon as we moved in, and we finally did it. I love having so much space and being able to access everything! It's a small thing, but an organized pantry makes this mama happy.

2-Today we finished up visiting the duck ponds in our county. While we were out and about this morning, I taught the boys how to play Pooh-sticks. Because who doesn't love a bridge and a good game of Pooh-sticks?

3-This weekend I am so looking forward to attending the General Women's Meeting with my mom and my sisters! This is one of the serious perks of living close to my family, and I am so uplifted by this twice-yearly event. We are all anxiously anticipating General Conference--when I told Talmage that Easter is on the same day as General Conference, he exclaimed with shock and excitement, "WHAT?! There are two holidays on the same day???" Thanks in part to our traditional General Conference party, it really is a holiday at our house!

4-Oh, Lincoln. He's at that stage where he's so much fun and so much work! We can't get enough of his bright smiles, and he's starting to have quite the sense of humor. One of my favorite things he says is "Here you go," which sounds more like "EeeeyaGO!" He also finally lost his fingernail this morning after getting his finger slammed in the front door a couple of weeks ago. Losing fingernails is one of the few injuries that really makes me squeamish. I'm so glad it's finally over! If you stop by, he'll gladly show you his injury with great concern.

5-A few weeks ago I got a surprise package in the mail from a dear friend! It contained the book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The story is engaging and entertaining for the kids, and I find myself drawn in over and over by the deeper meanings and themes to the book and emotionally affected by it. And the illustrations are gorgeous! It's a fabulous read--I highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not Enough, but Not Alone

It's been a pretty chaotic couple of weeks.
Sam's had several large projects coincide at work which have resulted in long days and late nights.
Last night Sam got home and we hurriedly had a quick dinner, after which I took the boys and went to a consignment event for children's clothing while Sam went to Mutual (a youth program at our Church).
We got home after bedtime and I quickly got all the boys to bed.
Sam walked through the door a while later and reluctantly told me he had to go back to work to take care of some cells.
He got home after midnight, and then, despite the late night, I woke up around 4:30 and couldn't get back to sleep.
Lincoln woke up around 6:15, and by 7:00 Sam had run out the door for another long day...ready to stop by the University of Utah to take care of some experiments, head down to BYU to teach a class and have a meeting with a collaborator, and then go back to the University of Utah for more work before coming home tonight.

Perhaps it was due to the culmination of several nights with little sleep,
but I found myself feeling a bit "off" this morning.
My patience level wasn't at its highest.
Lincoln chewed up his shredded wheat 1 biscuit at a time and then spit them out, so by the time I finished showering he, his chair, and the table were covered in wheat-y goo.
After cleaning him up and getting him ready for the day, I sat down in his room for a moment and my eyelids began to close almost uncontrollably. I dozed off, and while Talmage and Wesley cuddled up in a blanket next to me, Lincoln pushed a chair over to the kitchen counter and dumped a large canister of oatmeal out all over the counter and floors, further spreading it around with a spoon.
By the time I discovered him, we had our own oatmeal-blizzard!

He'd been fussing all morning, so I determined that due to his late night, cutting teeth, and being sick all week he was ready for his morning nap a bit early.
But he opted to cry instead of nap.
Shortly thereafter I discovered a bookshelf he had thrown the books off of, ripping the cover from one.
By the time I got him out of his crib, he was ridiculously grumpy.
Between his constant crying, the general whining of the other boys, and my own exhaustion, I left Lincoln playing with Talmage and Wesley in the family room and went to my room for a moment to collect my thoughts and gain some serenity after the hectic morning.

After about 3 or 4 minutes, I thought I heard the front door close.
With a sinking feeling, I realized that I had forgotten to lock the child-lock after Talmage had taken a diaper out to the trash for me, and Lincoln can easily open the door.
I ran out and saw Lincoln standing inside next to the closed door, holding a small flowerpot that had been in our front yard.
As the pieces clicked together in my mind, I realized that Lincoln had gone outside without me realizing it and for the few minutes I'd been in my room, he'd been in the front yard.

I became slightly teary as I considered what had just happened...
It was so unlike him to come back inside.
His tendency is to run away and explore when given freedom.
He could have easily wandered into the road or quickly made his way down the sidewalk and around the corner, disappearing who-knows-which-way by the time I discovered he was gone.
I thought of my own frustrations during the morning,
and I thought of other moments when my children have similarly been in danger because of my own failings.

And I tearfully thanked God for watching over my children,
and for making up the difference when my efforts simply aren't enough.
Because, whether I like it or not, they really just aren't.

And although during those couple of minutes on my knees with him in his room
Lincoln squirted hand sanitizer all over, tipped over a chest of drawers, began throwing clothes out of his dresser, and climbed onto my head,
I was given strength to go on.
Because while I know I'm not enough, I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mexican Haystacks

A few weeks ago, I purchased red bell peppers, avocados, and mangoes all really cheap. I was so excited, because I knew it meant I could make this meal again! We love this dinner. It's the kind of thing that makes you feel like your body is saying "thank you!" when you're done!

Adapted from Whole and Free

2 cups brown rice, uncooked
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 lbs ground beef or turkey or diced chicken
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 cups salsa
2 avocados
2 mangoes
2 red peppers

Cook brown rice according to package directions (I always add another 1/2 c. water to mine to make it more sticky). Chop cilantro and stir together with rice. Cook meat together with onions, drain fat if necessary, and stir in garlic powder and salsa. Cook until heated through and slightly thickened. Dice avocados, mangoes, and red peppers. Assemble as desired and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Coolest Sandbox Ever

After my post yesterday, my brother e-mailed me some pictures of the sandbox he built so I could share them.
And if you take a look, you'll see why I wanted to!
Presenting...the coolest sandbox ever.

Complete with a hefty metal cover (no cats leave surprises in this sandbox!),
a pulley system that locks the cover up or down,
a gigantic play area,
and an array of authentic, vintage Tonka trucks and diggers.

Pretty cool, right?!

I love that all of the little cousins (there are 8 on my side) can play together with ample room to dig.
I love that it's deep enough that the sand doesn't end up scattered everywhere but in the sandbox.
I love that it's built into the ground instead of above it.
And while I'm sure my boys subconsciously appreciate all of those things as well,
they simply love the fact that they can dig and play to their hearts' content with their cousins!

Monday, March 23, 2015


This weekend included my first blog conference,
a beautiful evening temple date,
a quick visit to the LEGO Americana Roadshow exhibit,
playing at a kids' rock-climbing gym (for free!),
a backyard BBQ with my brother's family,
playing in the best sandbox ever (when will I remember to take a picture of it?),
a long, hot drive in a mini-van with a broken A/C,
ripping our pantry shelves out to replace them,
putting 3 sleeping boys into the car to pick Sam up from work at 10:30 on Saturday night,
enjoying beautiful, uplifting music,
going to Church,
coming home early with a sick baby,
eating a favorite dinner,
and playing Prophet Memory with my littles.

A lot great,
a little not-so-much,
and plenty in between.

And after my first attempts with a circular saw,
I think I'll leave the pantry-shelves for Sam to cut...
turns out burning wood and bucking saws aren't my favorite things.
I'll stick with the band saw for now!

Tonight as Talmage prayed he said, "Please help us to make it through the darkness to go on our missions."
And then Wesley prayed, "Please help us to not be scared when we go on our missions and walk on the waves." (We had just read the story of Jesus walking on the water.)
Their heartfelt little prayers bring great big smiles to our faces.

(Wesley has a new "tough guy" look for photos...he actually was happy.)

Talmage hated rock-climbing for about 3/4 of the time we were there.
Wesley loved it, but only on the vertical rope net.
He kept asking me, "Wanna see me in action??" and then he'd climb up fast and belay down.
Lincoln kept begging to get up and then getting nervous.
We were so glad Avalon came to help out with the boys!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Thought I Was Ready

All I ever wanted was to be a mom.

With my sister, about age 3

I can still remember the drawing contest we had when I was in fifth grade.
We had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up.
And there, proudly posted on the wall amid hairstylists and rocket scientists,
hung my picture of a woman balancing a phone on her shoulder, cooking dinner, and holding a baby with a toddler crying at her feet.

In Junior High, during a career orientation class, I stated that I just wanted to be a mother.
I was determined to prove the teacher wrong when she stated that "in today's world, that just isn't possible."

With my youngest brother

In high school there were few things more important to me than grades and maintaining that 4.0.
But recruitment letters from ivy league colleges never had much appeal to me and were tossed in the trash without much thought.
While others with the same ambition in school set lofty career goals,
dreams of wildflower bouquets from Mr. Right and ice cream cones with my children filled my head.

During my senior year, my parents took a long-awaited trip to Hawaii
and I got to play "Mom" for a week...
packing lunches and grocery shopping accompanied my usual teenage tasks,
and my desire to be a mother was only more solidified in my mind.

It's always been my dream.

23 weeks along!

I was delighted and surprised when, despite my empty track record of dates in high school
and those lonely nights at home while my classmates went to homecoming and prom,
I met my husband just before my nineteenth birthday and we were married just over 6 months later.
A few weeks before our wedding we talked it over and determined that we didn't want to wait to have children.
We were ready to start down the road of parenthood.
And just 9 1/2 months after our wedding, our first son was born.

Moments after birth

I was confident as a new bride and young mom.
Insecurities about my ability to mother were largely absent as I took on my new role.
I mean, come on!
I was the 4th of 7 children, and my youngest sibling was born when I was 11...
I grew up witnessing first-hand and taking part in child-rearing.
I cooked dinner for my large family once per week as I grew, and I was taught the arts of sewing, canning food, cleaning, gardening, and more.
I babysat countless times.
I took every child development course I possibly could in high school and was state certified in all of them, and I even worked at the high school daycare and was president of the FCCLA chapter.
I took child development and parenting courses during college.
Sam and I had numerous discussions about parenting...even our honeymoon was filled with talk of parenting philosophies!
The day after we were married we sat down and drafted a document entitled "The Brady Family Constitution" wherein we set goals for our new family.
And for the first year or so of our new baby's life, almost every single Family Home Evening lesson was intentionally geared toward various aspects of parenting.
We were ready!
I was ready!

Our first at about 6 months

And for those first couple of years, I still naively thought I was fully prepared for motherhood.
Oh, sure, we had our issues...our new son had difficult feeding issues, and about 4 months after his birth he determined that sleep was greatly overrated.
He got into mischief and enjoyed pushing the limits as he neared age 2.
But I was certain that our parenting was yielding this brilliant, adorable, social, securely attached child,
and our ideals were coming to fruition.

But as he began to gain more independence and we added one and then two more boys to our family,
I started to learn something really important.
I may have been fully prepared to be a mother...
but I was prepared very little to be Talmage's mother
and Wesley's mother
and Lincoln's mother.
And each of them has had difficulties that have caused us to recognize our own weaknesses and turn to God with humility, recognizing that we can't be fully successful on our own.

Fall 2014

So while I'm still grateful for the experiences I had that helped prepare me to be a mother,
I am even more grateful for the truths I was taught
that led me to turn to my Father in Heaven for inspiration and help throughout my life.
I am grateful that He humbled me early on by showing me my weaknesses
and teaching me the necessity of relying on Him to raise His children here on Earth.
I am grateful for the challenges of motherhood that allow me to taste such sweet joys.

And it's still my dream come true.
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