Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Black-Eyed Boy

Poor Lincoln had an encounter with the edge of the piano the other day
that resulted in a pretty good black eye.
Our neighbor commented that it made him look "tough,"
but I thought his little black eye was just too cute.

And speaking of eyes...
all it takes to make my day great is for Lincoln to put on these toy glasses.
This picture gets me every time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wesley is Four

Four is one of my favorite ages for kids.
I love the way my relationship changes with them,
and I feel like their minds are constantly forming amazing connections.
I'm so happy our Wesley-boy is four!

-He is typically a very happy, peaceful, optimistic child. He tends to be a peacemaker and is rather even-tempered. If something does set him off, he is usually back to his normal self after a good cry for a few minutes. He's always been rather mellow; when he was a baby and Talmage was 2, Talmage would sometimes come and sit on him when he was laying on the floor. Despite my protests, Wesley would just smile up at his big brother!

-He is very cuddly. I remember when he was about 2, he went through a phase where almost every night he would come climb into bed with us. Sam started enjoying those nighttime cuddles and began calling him his "little teddy bear." He is soft, warm, and simply loves to cuddle. I tend to get rather sentimental about my children growing up too fast, so I definitely love this quality of his!

-Although he is rather mellow, when he has an opinion he tends to be very adamant about it! The other day we were watching a scripture movie with a big earthquake in it where a bunch of bad guys were killed. I was worried it might be too scary for the boys, so I was watching them closely. Suddenly Wesley burst out, "I would just say, 'Serves ya right!!!'" He provides us with so many opportunities to stifle our laughter.

-He's starting to really make good academic progress. He's been asking me to teach him how to read, so we've been headed that direction a little bit. And Sam and I have both been pleased to see how his memory is improving and he's starting to remember names and details from scripture stories we've been studying!

-Wesley tends to be really agreeable and easy to get along with. While Talmage is his best friend, his relationship with Lincoln is also starting to take off. They have a game together they call "Two-Buck Ear" where they grab each others' ears, and seeing them play together while Talmage is at school has been gratifying. I think within the next year or so, Lincoln will be an equal part of that trio as they tag along together. But Wesley is simply easy to love. His mellow personality jives with others really well.

-Wesley is convinced he wants to be a construction worker when he grows up and asks me regularly, "Who will teach me how to drive the backhoe when I get to be a Daddy?"

-He loves stories. Each afternoon after Talmage leaves for school and I put Lincoln down for a nap, Wesley and I lay down on the bed together and read a story--just the two of us--before he goes to sleep. I treasure that one-on-one time with my boy. He can often be found quietly perusing a stack of books.

-Wesley loves sports of any kind. I remember once when he was about 2, we went into a cell phone store to work out an issue. They had a TV with a tennis game on, and Wesley sat transfixed the entire time! He has always loved balls and sports. The boys' almost-nightly soccer games with their Daddy are a highlight of their day. Sam is just itching to own a home so we can put up a big basketball hoop, but in the meantime, Wesley is getting a 6-foot one for Christmas.

We love Wesley's agreeable, happy spirit. When he was a baby we called him our "sunshine baby." He always seemed to have a greater-than-normal sense of innocence and guilelessness about him. He almost glowed with brightness, and with his fair skin, rosy cheeks, blonde hair, and bright blue eyes, the nickname seemed fitting. I have tried to come up with a symbol for our boys as their personalities have emerged. Talmage's symbol is an eagle because of his leadership qualities and our hopes that he will fly above the ways of the world. Wesley's symbol is a sun because as he has grown he has maintained that light he possessed as a baby and he has radiated it through our home and our lives through his joy, love, and service. We use the sun to encourage him to continue to serve and be a light to others. (Lincoln's symbol is yet to be determined as he is still a bit young.) We love having Wesley's bright spirit in our home!

(PS-I put those symbols on shields I made them last year for their birthdays and as we explained the meanings, Talmage lit up and said, "So I'm a leader and Wesley is a servant???" I guess we have to be careful or the symbols could turn into labels and backfire!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


We have a new favorite hangout.
We can drive for about 5 minutes and arrive at a beautiful pond
with a creek feeding it as it runs down a rock bed.
I can bring a camp chair and a few snacks
and sit in the shade while my little ones explore to their hearts' content,
wading, building sandcastles, climbing boulders, throwing rocks, and digging for treasures.

Most of the best places on Earth are outdoors, don't you think?
I treasure these moments as I watch my children enjoy childhood
and explore with eyes of wonder and awe.

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Love Mondays

I love Mondays.
It may be strange, but I love diving into a new week with energy and purpose.
On Monday, almost my whole to-do list is completed.
On Monday, we replenish the fridge and the pantry.
On Monday, the house is put back in order after the weekend and our comforting routine begins again.

By Wednesday, my to-do list typically begins to fall apart.
And by Friday, I often don't even have a to-do list because there are enough things I haven't completed during the week that have piled up.
But each Monday...I have a clean slate.

But don't get me wrong--that's not to say I don't love Fridays, too!
This past Friday, Sam and I went to see a delightful concert by the Orchestra at Temple Square.
We listened to the masterpieces of Chopin and Mozart,
enjoyed the intensity of the conductor,
and shared enlightening conversation.

We needed to work out some of the administrative details of our date,
so on Friday morning I sent him the following e-mail:

Respected Sir:

Tonight's gala begins at precisely 7:30 pm, although we are advised to arrive at the location no fewer than 30 minutes prior to the appointed time. Perhaps we could meet with great cordiality on the steep incline directly north of the distinguished conference center near the 6 o'clock hour? You can expect to be presented with nourishing accommodations upon your arrival.

If the arrangements presented herein align themselves with your desires and availability, please respond appropriately to advise me on the arrangements I will hitherto execute.

With all due respect (and love!),
Your Lady

(Just thought we ought to practice being sophisticated for tonight's concert...)

Sam outdid me (as usual!) with his response:

Well haw 'bout that! We goin' to a shinding ta'night! Can't wet ta see ya dear. An' afterwards we can lat up some buffalo chips and have us a good dance ba the far with tha whole train if ya's willin'. Thanks for a'plannin' such maty fine digs!

Love ya with all m'heart,
Sammy boy Junior

That boy makes me laugh so hard.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's NOT Normal

Yesterday I called a company to express concern over their sexually provocative billboard.
The manager gave me a host of {very lame and illogical} excuses.
At one point, she encouraged me to "use it as a teaching opportunity" for my children
and to tell them that the image was a normal thing they would see at the beach or the pool.

Excuse me?!?

Thanks for the suggestion,
but I will certainly not be telling my children that air-brushed, photo-shopped, surgically-enhanced images advertising cosmetic procedures are "normal."
I will, perhaps, use the billboard as a "teaching opportunity,"
but that teaching will focus on filling our lives with positive images and activities, on respecting our own and others' bodies, on false notions of beauty, and on the meaning of true beauty.

As I've fought my own battle to develop a positive self-concept,
I've only come to see more and more how damaging the objectification of women is
on both a moral and an emotional level.

In the beautiful words of Susan W. Tanner:
"Happiness comes from accepting the bodies we have been given as divine gifts and enhancing our natural attributes, not from remaking our bodies after the image of the world. The Lord wants us to be made over--but in His image, not in the image of the world, by receiving His image in our countenances."

Find her full talk here!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Now He Is Six

It is all still so clear in my mind...
the way I woke up, 4 days past my due date, and thought some fluid was leaking,
the way I lay in bed and ate a bowl of Cheerios as a strange burning sensation spread through my abdomen every five minutes,
the way I called my mom and the on-call nurse with great uncertainty and was told to come to the hospital,
the way we dressed for Church just in case we had to take the walk of shame out of the hospital,
the way we were checked in and labor pains quickly picked up,
the way we officially became parents at 5:45 pm,
the way our newborn son didn't even cry at delivery, but just strained to hold up his own head and began moving his eyes all over the place, trying to take in every detail of this strange new world,
the way I was filled with such a profound sense of joy and love I felt I might burst...
it's all still so clear.

And now he is six.

-Talmage has great characteristics for an oldest child. He is very responsible, aware, and rule-oriented which makes him a big help as he watches out for his younger brothers and sets a good example.

-He has a very tender heart. While he may seem argumentative at times, the smallest reprimand or rebuke fills him with great sorrow. While that used to motivate him to lash out even harder, he has started to expose his tender feelings more and more. He has shaped and molded the way we discipline, and we seek to do so in a loving, logical, matter-of-fact way rather than bringing negative emotion into it.

-He loves to serve. He is at an age where he is constantly seeking approval, and he finds great joy in serving his brothers, especially. He often saves the last bit of his treat to give to one of them or insists that they go first. That trait has influenced his brothers as well, and few things fill me with greater joy than watching them eagerly serve one another!

-Talmage is very studious and loves to read. Teaching him to read was one of the most satisfying things I have been able to do, as I have come to love to see him get lost in a book or sit and pore over his latest non-fiction volume while spouting off scientific facts. He also frequently reads books to Wesley, and seeing the two of them cuddled up in a chair, huddled over a book fills my heart with joy. "Reading opens up a whole new world!" I would tell him when he wasn't always enthusiastic about the learning process. I love seeing him become acquainted with that new world.

-He is extremely observant. I recently remarked to Sam that I think it would be exhausting to be Talmage, because he seems to be tuned in to everything around him. As we drive, we are peppered with questions about license plates, bumper stickers, billboards, why we are going a different route or are in a different lane than usual, and on and on. He is constantly seeking information.

-He loves chores I give him such as helping to unload the dishwasher, clipping off dead flowers, washing the sliding glass door, starting the laundry, or vacuuming. He doesn't enjoy his routine jobs (like making his bed or cleaning his room) quite as much, but he (and his brothers) get so excited about other chores I come up with.

-He is an auditory learner and seems to have a near-photographic memory, which means if you tell him something he will likely remember it forever. He has a certain look he gets on his face when he is in what we call "memorization mode," with his mouth partway open and his eyes staring off into the distance. He often asks, "Mom, remember when..." and then recites an extremely detailed memory from years ago.

-Over the years we have learned that changes are hard for him to handle. He likes routine and tends to ask a lot of questions if something is changing so that he can feel more in-control of the situation. He often asks me questions about when we move (which probably won't be for a couple more years) because he is already anticipating the change. The one change, however, that didn't seem to affect him negatively was starting school. He loves school and has been at his happiest and most well-behaved since beginning a month and a half ago.

It has been an absolutely joy to see this boy's personality emerge. He has definitely helped define us as parents, and we are constantly grateful for his pure desires to do the right thing.
I am so, so grateful for the opportunity we have to have this child in our home!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Glorious Unfolding

I heard this song tonight
and was struck by the simple truths it contains.
Isn't it wonderful to have an eternal perspective?
"This is just the beginning of the beginning!"

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

Of this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Field Trippin'

Today I get to accompany Talmage's class on their Fall field trip!
I think I might be more excited than he is.
I finally get to see his friends he tells me about each day
and connect names with faces!
School still feels a bit like a mystery to me--
I hear bits and pieces about it from him,
but I'd really like to be a fly on the wall for a few days so I could get a feel for how things go
and who different children are.

(Like, since when do kids learn ballet in school and go to dance class in Kindergarten?)

The other day, I was talking to another mom about helping out in his class for an upcoming party.
She told me that Talmage was her daughter's "favorite boy."
She was surprised because she normally favors girls,
so she asked her what she liked about him.
"He has handsome hair," she stated.

Speaking of field trips, here are a few photos from our field trip we took last week to the aviary.
We got to see a bird show with some pretty impressive birds that flew inches above our heads!
The boys loved the black vulture named "Vader."
I'm sure you can imagine why.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Making Music

(I miss my tinies.)

I've been reading through my old journals,
and discovering many tender and amusing stories I had forgotten about!
Reading old journal entries always motivates me to be more consistent about writing now.
I found this sweet little gem, written on November 9, 2011:

We were blessed today with Primary songs. They always have such a calming influence on Talmage, and he is continually asking for “more songs?” Today things were getting a little out of hand after we got home from the store. Talmage wet his pants and got into the dishwashing detergent while I was nursing Wesley, then when I was cleaning him up and getting new underwear for him to wear he went in and started tormenting Wesley (who was laying in his crib), making him scream. Then Wesley was having a hard time and kept crying and crying while Talmage was being disciplined and having to sit on the chair with his arms folded. I finally sat down in the rocking chair and began singing Primary songs to Wesley as I rocked him to sleep. Talmage immediately calmed down and came over and climbed up next to me on the chair. He lay his head on me/Wesley and we sang songs in the semi-darkness for a good 20 minutes or so. The whole tone of the household changed. Everything became more manageable and calm. I am so grateful for that moment and for the inspired Primary songs that bring the Spirit into our home.

Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember,
and it definitely influences the tone in our household.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


We just had a most wonderful weekend enjoying General Conference!
So many talks stood out to me,
but among them were:

-Elder Larry R. Lawrence's talk on "What Lack I Yet?"
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on the divinely-given, unconditional love mothers have
-Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on the need for the continued influence of righteous women in the world

Do you want to hear their messages?
Have you ever wondered what the men are like that we sustain as modern-day prophets?
Are you curious about Mormonism in general?

Check out those talks and many others here!
(Official transcripts, talk titles, and other information will be released within the next couple of days.)
General Conference does SO much to make me a better wife and mother
and renews my personal testimony of Jesus Christ.
The messages are uplifting to any Christ-follower, regardless of your individual religion.
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