Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Smile, Wes!"

If you ask Wesley to smile, you'll get a lot of photos like these:

Until you get him to laugh, after which you'll finally get some winners:

I love this handsome blue-eyed cuddly little teddy bear.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

30 Years!

Yesterday was Sam's 30th birthday!!
It's hard to believe.
We had a great celebration with his family--
cilantro-lime chicken quesadillas,
chips & pico de gallo,
Brazilian lemonade,
fruit salad,
and ice cream cake
were followed by presents and an FHE together on Memorial Day.
We enjoyed a few more celebratory activities yesterday evening.

Sam was excited about the new bike I scored for him at a used bike sale earlier this month!
Talmage is getting pretty fast on his (fast enough that I don't tip over while pulling Wesley & Lincoln in the trailer), so we're looking forward to many family bike rides together.
I had a 30 mile bike ride planned to celebrate his 30 years, but it's been postponed as his work is really crazy right now!

In honor of 30 awesome years,
I thought I'd share 30 random facts about him.
I tried NOT to gush too much, because he really doesn't like me to brag about him
(and I suppose it can get annoying to others)
so these are mostly neutral facts
and I saved the major gushing for my own personal birthday tribute to him.

1-His first words were "thank you," which is quite fitting if you know him at all!
2-He is really frugal. Both of us are penny pinchers which has worked out well in connection with graduate school! I finally got him an electric weed whacker for his birthday, because he has been trimming the edges of the grass with scissors in order to save money.
3-He loves big trees. We hope to live in a house someday surrounded with big trees, and the lack of trees in new housing developments makes him not want to live in them.
4-He was in the Gifted & Talented program in Junior High but wasn't doing so well...when his teachers were going to drop him from the program, his dad decided he needed more of a challenge so he enrolled him in COLLEGE classes at age 14, where he received straight A's. He completed his Associate's Degree in Computer Engineering in conjunction with his high school graduation and didn't attend high school at all his senior year.
5-He loves studying efficiency, time management, and innovation. He devours books on these subjects for fun.
6-Along those same lines, he is pretty serious about managing his own time! He used to try to shower each day in 100 seconds and would count the entire time he was showering. He never wants any time to go to waste.
7-One of his favorite foods is RAW onions.
8-He made his own mission scrapbook. As a result, when his bio was read at our college commencement exercises (because he was saying the prayer in the program), they stated that scrapbooking was one of his hobbies.
9-He is asked regularly if he is related to Tom Brady, the NFL football player.
10-He says hysterically funny scientific things in his sleep. Just the other night I got home after he had gone to bed and when I walked in the room he groggily gave me a huge hug and said, "I just...I just...I just got the best whole...the best tubes...I picked the best pipette tips EVER! What I'm trying to say is, you're the best wife in the whole world!" (Pipette tips are something he uses in his experiments.) When I related the exchange to him the next morning, he begged me to have mercy on his sleep talking. I told him that I could think of a lot of ways it would be great to be like pipette tips!
11-He is really good at "picking up" skills. He became conversant in Spanish just because he taught English classes to Spanish-speakers for a while on his mission.
12-He also somehow learned to play the piano without ever having a lesson to the point that he can play hymns if he practices.
13-He also plays the electric guitar, the acoustic guitar, and the drums.
14-He loves rainy weather. It has rained every day for the past two weeks here and he has loved every minute of it. The sunshine is supposed to return this weekend and he lamented today, "Well, we'll just enjoy the rain while it lasts..." Even after two weeks straight, he's still loving the rain!
15-The worst job he ever had was when he had to dress up in a huge, furry gorilla suit (imagine a 6'4" gorilla!) and deliver packages to people on behalf of some company (he was working for a temp agency after his mission). He wasn't supposed to say a word the whole time, but he started breaking that rule when one terrified woman asked him if the box contained a bomb!
16-He is a really good artist.
17-His favorite movie is Ben-Hur.
18-He is almost always hot...really hot. Heat radiates off of him to the point that I instantly feel it when he sits next to me. It makes working in a lab coat in a hot cell-culture room pretty miserable for him and he keeps a fan at work and one next to the table so he can have cold air blowing on him while he works and while he eats.
19-I guess it's because of that fact that his favorite season is winter.
20-He went to El Salvador for a couple of months right after we started dating. He got to teach classes on square foot gardening among many other activities while he was there. Someday, when we buy a house, I hope to put those skills to use in a giant garden!
21-He is crazy good with names. He almost never forgets a name and a face. Once when we were dating, we went to my roommate's mission farewell dinner and he was introduced to someone there and exchanged a sentence or two with him. Weeks later, we were hiking in the mountains and as we passed another hiker Sam called him by name and stopped to say hello. In response to the hiker's confusion, Sam re-introduced himself and told him that we had met at that dinner. I was stunned that he could even remember him in a completely different context!
22-He used that crazy memory of his to memorize what every chapter in the Book of Mormon is about after his mission.
23-He eats cereal and oatmeal with peanut butter. I think his mom taught him about this combination.
24-He makes (sometimes rash) promises when he wants to reach a goal. If I'm around when he's promising, I tend to shout, "WAIT!!!" and add in caveats I think he should consider. At the beginning of this year, he promised that he would exercise every weekday of the entire year! I wasn't around to insert caveats, so that means that even when he's been really sick or when he left for work at 4:30 am and returned home at 11:30 pm, he still sticks to his promise.
25-A year or two ago he started telling the boys outrageous stories about a fictional man named Jillyhooboo and his family. The boys adore these stories and beg for them almost every time Sam's home.
26-He is disarmingly funny. Many people don't see that side of him, but when he says something funny it's ridiculously witty and clever. (Lucky me, I get to see it all the time.) At his PhD defense celebration, this was a trait pointed out by a fellow lab member as well.
27-Basketball was a huge part of his life when he was young, and he wanted to play for the NBA as a pre-teen.
28-He loves documentaries and books about history.
29-He is the hardest worker I know. In our 6 1/2 years of marriage, I can't think of a single time he's done something purely for self-satisfaction. Even when he is having fun, it is to serve another purpose (like taking me on a date or bonding with our kids). Some might say that is an unhealthy trait, but I have to admire his work ethic.
30-When he was a baby, random people in the store would give his mom money because they thought he was so cute!

He's my absolute best friend, and I loved the chance to celebrate the big 3-0 with him!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Toddler Days

Bubbles.

Drawing.

 Eating Mud (of course).

 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Reading Favorite Books.

 Oh, and plenty of this too, just to keep things real.

My baby is growing so fast it's astounding!
He's quickly earning "little boy" status.
His simple pleasures take me back to Talmage's toddler days, when the days seemed never-ending.
Now, with three boys, the days fly by and I wish so desperately for more time to do these simple things.
I'm so thankful to be able to watch him grow!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Don't Expect Them NOT to Change

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend my cousin's wedding.
As is typical, their sealer gave them a few bits of advice,
and it got me thinking about the counsel we were given when we were married.

One of the pieces of advice we received is one I hear very frequently--"Don't try to change your spouse."
I agree with this, for the most part--although I do feel that we can help one another see ways we can change for the better in a positive, non-critical fashion.
But that's a post for another day.

Today I wanted to write about the counterpart to this advice.
While we shouldn't critically try to change our spouses,
we also shouldn't expect them to NOT change.

It's something that isn't talked about much,
but through the past 6 1/2 years of marriage, it's something I've come to realize is definitely true.
As I look back at the 19-year-old bride I was, I can see that there have been some obvious changes.
Most, I feel, have been for the better.
But as life's stressors have changed, they have also brought out traits that haven't always been good.
And as those traits have been realized, I have worked to overcome them.
But I'm grateful Sam has been patient with me as I have changed through the years.

And just as we change as people, our relationship changes.
While we've grown ever closer,
circumstances have created changes that may not always seem positive on the surface.
If I look back on our newlywed days, I could choose to feel discontented with where we are today.
Constant love notes, sappy e-mails throughout the day, and focused conversations about Gospel insights were threads of our lives back then.
As our life's tapestry has continued to form, our more recent threads have involved midnight baby-soothings, loud dinners filled with jabber of children, late nights of graduate school work, and rare uninterrupted conversations--usually on date night.
But our lives aren't worse. Our relationship isn't suffering.
And while I still appreciate eloquent notes, the continual acts of service displayed in fatherhood mean just as much.
So rather than feeling discontented about the changes that have taken place,
I can find joy in our maturing relationship in which we are continually becoming more unified and working together to raise our children which naturally binds us more fully.

When I chose to marry Sam, I wasn't choosing to spend eternity in static existence with him.
I was choosing to spend eternity changing with him.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What We Thought We Wanted

When I was just about 5 weeks pregnant with Wesley (just a smudge on the ultrasound!),
I developed a severe case of tonsillitis.
I was concerned about the well-being of our rapidly forming baby, and as my fever took off and my sore throat became more and more severe until it was almost unbearable, we started to wonder if my illness warranted a doctor's visit.
But, as often happens in our family, the sickness reached its peak on a weekend.
And on a graduate student budget, emergency room visits are nothing to trifle with.

As I researched some of my symptoms online, I became convinced I had something called a peritonsillar abscess...a condition that can cause death if not treated.
We determined that I should see a doctor first thing in the morning, but in the meantime, the pain was constantly knife-like, and we had read that if the abscess ruptured it could be very dangerous.
As we knelt together in prayer, Sam prayed for my well-being and specifically prayed that the abscess would not rupture.
At that precise moment, there was a sudden 'pop' and change in my throat, and the pain declined drastically. I was able to sleep that night, and the next morning I told Sam that I felt kind of silly calling the doctor because I felt so much better.
We decided it would still be worthwhile for me to visit the specialist, and as he talked with me about my symptoms and examined my throat, he explained that I did indeed have an abscess but that it had ruptured. When I told him it had swollen to the point that I could hardly breathe while laying down, he looked at me with shock and told me I was very lucky to be alive and that I was very fortunate the abscess had ruptured (despite the risks that went along with that).
Apparently I was in even worse condition than we had realized.

I've thought about this experience a lot.
Isn't it interesting that the abscess ruptured at the precise moment we were praying it wouldn't?
And why?
Because God knew our hearts, He knew our true desires, and He knew what was ultimately best for us.
So even though He didn't answer my prayer in the way we had planned,
His answer proved to be far more in our favor.

Prayer is something I definitely have a testimony of, and I'm learning more and more to surrender my will to Heavenly Father's, because He knows us and our situations so much more fully than we ourselves do.
And He knows what will ultimately bring us the greatest joy.
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