Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lately

Ah, Summer...how we love your long, slow days, basking in the sunshine or reading in the shade you offer us, playing in your cool, refreshing water, partaking of your abundant produce, spending nights with your star-filled skies, and so much more!
And yet, just when I think my heart truly belongs to Summer, along comes Autumn with its crispness and color and anticipation.
And then Winter brings us such joy and togetherness and the wonder of children and the safety of home.
And soon enough, Spring emerges through the frost and we begin the cycle all over again with the wonder of new life and the hope each blossom brings.
Ah, yes...the seasons in Utah really can't be beat.

As of late, we've been filling these Summer days with many good things--here is a sampling:

1-Backyard Baseball. Baseball, yes, and so much more! Our small backyard is the setting for so much Summertime joy. Sam loves playing baseball with the boys, and both boys are pretty good at smacking that ball! I wish for Little League, but maybe someday.

2-Biking. I've been trying to be an early morning person for years, but it just really isn't my forte. Getting up before 6:30 am is a big struggle...but finally, after setting failed goals time and time again, I got a friend from Church to go biking with me and that one little thing has tipped the balance in favor of that 5:30 alarm. Bonus: We get to enjoy beautiful sunrises as we ride down a gorgeous path--at one point the trees completely form a canopy over our heads and we get to ride through a tree-tunnel! The kids are also loving bike riding and Lincoln begs just about every day, "Bike-ide??"

3-Photography. We got a new DSLR camera for our birthdays/Christmas this year, and I've been spending more time than I probably ought to figuring out how to use it! I'm slowly getting more comfortable with the manual settings, and I hope someday soon I can begin to document our lives with beautiful photos.

4-Dressing Up. Namely, Talmage found his Halloween dragon costume from when he was 2 years old and crams himself into it on a regular basis, though the paws come up to his knees and elbows. He parades around the house in that silly ensemble for many waking hours!

5-At-Home Preschool. Another goal I've tried to accomplish but have struggled with is having a consistent (short and simple) preschool lesson with my older boys each day. Finally, I sat down and hacked out some themes and came up with a routine, purchased a pocket calendar to hang on the wall, bought a closet second-hand for $5 to organize all of my supplies, and gave it another whirl. And we've been pretty good about it this time around! The kids have loved it...they sing songs about the planets and the continents, they've enjoyed several fun art projects, we try to go on a weekly field trip, and changing that little pocket calendar is one of the highlights of their day! Here's hoping it sticks this time!

6-Reading. Sam and I have gotten drawn into some pretty great books lately that have kept us up far too late, and Talmage is really starting to take off and enjoy reading! I'll frequently find him tucked in a corner of the house with a book. He's reading his first chapter book and hopefully becoming a little bookworm like his parents!

7-Splash Pad Playing. In addition to swimming, we've been visiting different splash pads in our county. We went to one on Thursday that was more of a mini-water park than a splash pad! It had a big slide and a bridge and everything...pretty intense for the little kids. They didn't last long there, but they love the one in the picture below!

8-Talking. Lincoln is starting to talk up a storm these days. He mostly says just 1-2 words together, but every once in a while he'll surprise me with a full sentence like, "I wanna see!" or "There it is!" He also likes to get in my face and tell me adamantly, "Watch! Watch!" before he does something earth-shatteringly significant like stepping off the stairs with a little hop in his step.

(Wesley's eyelashes are so crazy long!)

9-"Helping." Just about every time I start to cook, I am quickly joined by three little helpers who love to take part. It makes the kitchen pretty full and usually creates a big mess and slows me way down, but the other day Sam helped me remember how important it is to show appreciation for their offers to help (even if they're self-centered for now) and encourage them to continue. So, if my kitchen is smattered with sticky handprints and dusted with flour, we'll call it a productive mess. :)

10-Dirt. Oh, so much dirt. Don't expect to find clean floors if you stop by. Mopping them seems almost a futile effort, because they are dirty again as soon as they dry and I lift the indoors ban and let the kids back in. In our house in Texas, I spent only a little time cleaning but it always looked clean, and in this house I spend a lot more time cleaning and it always looks dirty. I've definitely learned some things about paint and flooring and the like, and I've got some definite preferences! Dark wood floors and little kids don't seem to mix very well at our house. But all those dirty footprints are so worth the hours my kids spend outside! (They've got serious farmers' tans on their necks to prove those hours.)

Yes, Summer, we're glad you're here for a while!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Day at the Pool

This morning brought us a beautiful, sunny time at the pool with two of my sisters and my sister's kids.
Odd as it may seem, I can count on one hand the number of times we went swimming while living in Texas.
We didn't have easy access to a pool for most of the time we lived there, and we didn't have proper equipment to keep the kids safe once Wesley outgrew his baby-seat.
So my kids have had a bit of a fear of deeper water, and my goal is to have them totally comfortable in the water (with flotation devices) by the end of the summer.
We took great strides today!
Both boys talked of little else for the remainder of the day.
"Swimming was so much fun!" they kept lamenting.
They are so excited to go back!
And I'm excited to take them...
and to figure out how to improve my photography skills when the extremely bright sun is reflecting off the water!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Good Fathers

One evening, early in my relationship with Sam (on our second date, actually!!),
we were walking down Center Street in Provo and I stopped to admire a bronze statue of a woman holding a baby.
We talked about the statue for a moment, and then continued on our way.
And as we walked, Sam said, "Speaking of mothers...what are your feelings on motherhood?"
I hopped on my soapbox and talked for a couple of minutes about how important motherhood was to me.
And that was the last major test I had to pass, in his eyes, before continuing the relationship.

From the very beginning, I've seen how parenthood is so important to Sam.
I remember the first time I saw him play with little kids for an extended period of time.
It was just a month or two after we were married, and we volunteered to babysit during a church activity.
The gym was filled with children, and there were a couple of little red-head boys in particular that were rough-housing with Sam...jumping on him, tackling him, and having the time of their lives.
I sat back and admired that man of mine as he transformed into a child again,
and I was so satisfied when, after the event, he expressed his hopes that we would someday have "rumbly-tumbly" little kids. That wish has definitely been fulfilled!

I'm so grateful to share parenthood with him.
And I hope that someday my children will recognize how privileged they are to have him as their father...
a man who never slacks on his duties, who works incredibly hard, who provides for our needs, who teaches them chivalry and respect, who loves their mother whole-heartedly, whose understanding of Gospel truths runs so deep, and who adores his little boys.

I was likewise blessed with a wonderful father.
He is one of the smartest men I've ever known--when we were young, we could ask him anything, it seemed, and he would always have an answer, from what tar on the roads was made from to how planets maintained their orbits around the sun.
His testimony has been a rock in the foundation of my own, and his Gospel knowledge has always been something I've admired.
His logical thinking appeals to my own logic-seeking mind, and his generosity to others will always inspire me.
When I graduated from high school, my dad wrote me a letter that included the following statement that has uplifted, encouraged, and motivated me:

"Life is designed to provide stretching moments sprinkled throughout the normal, joyful path of life. I'm sure there will be occasions when you feel less than ecstatic about the way things are going. That is normal and expected, so I hope during such times you will be neither unreasonably discouraged, nor hard on yourself, nor have expectations that are unreasonably high. Try to maintain balance as much as possible, and to remember that ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, no totally mortal being has ever been, nor ever will be, perfect. We all struggle at times. We stumble and fall, but we pick ourselves back up and with faith and hope and a recognition that we are children of Deity-the Creator of this universe, we press on. We could not reach our full potential if every act we performed were outstanding. Thankfully, because of the power of the Atonement, our best is good enough, even when we don't think so."

Happy Father's Day,
and a special thank you to these men who have changed my life for the better.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Popsicles

Popsicles are pretty serious business around here.
Until they're gone, that is, and then the silliness comes back with full force.
Ah, summer...we are soaking in your magic.
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