Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fun Facts From an Amazing Place

Talmage didn't have school on Monday, so we went on our annual Pre-Conference tour of the Conference Center. After our tour guide found out we had been before, she tried to think of lesser-known facts to share with us.

Did you know...
-all of the paintings in the Conference Center are originals?
-the General Primary President in the 1950s used her own money to pay Arnold Friberg to paint the Book of Mormon scenes? She died shortly afterward, so she never got to see them finished, but they were released in the Children's Friend magazine--one per month for a year.
-after the director or producer of The Ten Commandments saw Arnold Friberg's paintings, he hired him to be the art director of The Ten Commandments. That's why the scenery and costumes in the film look so similar to his painting style!
-the oldest painting in the Conference Center is one of Joseph of Egypt interpreting dreams. It came from France and was commissioned by Napoleon's brother (?).
-the plants on the roof are planted in shale because it weighs only 1/3 as much as soil.
-President Hinckley wanted those in wheelchairs to be able to sit in the comfortable Conference Center seats, so the arm rests on the seats on the rows reserved for disabled persons collapse down completely to make it easy for them to slide from a wheelchair to the seat.

Just a few fun facts!
It's always a treat to see this amazing building.
I love taking the boys so they can better connect what is happening at General Conference.

We are so excited for Conference!!
We'll be making preparations for our Conference party tomorrow.
The boys all slept in the same bed the other night (as they love to do!). It's always funny to see the mass of arms and legs sprawled around the top bunk when I check on them before I go to bed.
They stayed up late chatting though, and making plans for the party.
Lincoln tells me it has something to do with gummies.
Hopefully I can make it live up to their hopes and dreams!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

So Fast

It's crazy how fast Maxwell is growing up!
I took these pictures at the beginning of March, and he was just beginning to crawl on all fours.
He was content to roll around his room.
Now, just a few weeks later, he is crawling all over the place
and mostly finding things with which to pull himself up to standing position!
I usually find him standing in his crib when I go in to get him up from naps.
Today he crawled up a couple of stairs
and my friend's 1-year-old boy wasn't thrilled when Maxwell pulled himself up to stand using him for stability.
He is not content to roll around anymore
and instead empties the bookshelf and tries to rip apart the books.
He can feed himself food from his highchair tray,
and he is communicating when he wants food and when he wants water at dinner time (he'll turn his head away and close his mouth when we offer him food if he wants a drink, and do the same thing if we offer him a drink when he wants food).
He's also learning to ask nicely (a pleasant, "uh, uh, uh" for food instead of screaming).
He waves at people (but not on demand), gives high five (occasionally), and does "soo big!"
He loves books, animal sounds, and graham crackers,
and I love seeing his personality emerge more every day.

We just adore this bundle of squishy delight.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A New Chapter

Last Tuesday was such a GREAT day.
After an Associate's Degree (Computer Engineering),
a Bachelor's Degree (Molecular Biology),
a PhD (Cancer Biology),
and a postdoctoral fellowship combined with a Master's Degree (Biomedical Informatics),
Sam defended his FINAL thesis!
(And he passed with flying colors!! One guy on his committee said they should have given him another PhD instead of a Master's...)

Sam joked that maybe he should get an MBA now...
what will we do with school behind us?!?
It still seems a little surreal.

As I listened to his Professor talk about how he is the best scientist she has ever worked with
and I listened to other acquaintances give him accolades,
I felt an increase in appreciation for his hard work.
I sometimes take it for granted when he comes home completely exhausted--physically and mentally--
I know he works hard, but since he doesn't tell me about the compliments co-workers give him,
sometimes I fail to appreciate it fully.
It was so neat to be able to see his hard work pay off!
We celebrated with his lab afterwards at a local Mexican place.
I was so happy when we picked up the kids that even Lincoln throwing up in the car on the way home couldn't ruin my good mood.

Yay for the beginning of a new chapter of life!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Into the Wardrobe

Sam and I take the boys on one-on-one outings once each month.
We switch off which boys go with which parents each time, and they are highly anticipated events!
Last month I took Wesley to see a local Junior High's production of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."
They did a great job--I was surprised that these Junior High kids performed for 2 1/2 hours!
And I was also surprised that Wesley didn't get tired of it.
Yesterday he finished reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" himself.
Once again, I was surprised by how he devoured the book, despite the fact that the language is a bit advanced for a 5-year-old!
Whether we run to Subway and get a cookie together, Sam takes a boy on the train, or a college sporting event is attended, we love spending that time giving each boy some undivided attention.

Life just has so much goodness to offer!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fighting Grumpy with Yes

Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I suppose.
Little things were going wrong right and left
and I was in no mood to handle it all.
Fitting that it drizzled and snowed almost all day.

Sometimes when I have days like that, I like to combat the grumpies with "yes."
I have a "yes" day where, without telling the boys, I try to respond to all of their requests by saying "yes," unless doing so would cause a serious problem.
"Can we make chocolate chip cookies?"
"Can I have another cookie?" (And another, and another?)
"Will you play a game with us?"
"Can we watch a movie?"
Etc, etc...
And as their excitement about the day grows, my happiness does, too.

It wouldn't be good to have "yes" days all the time,
but every once in a while they are just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dr. Seuss and Wearing Green

I've mentioned before that I love celebrating holidays,
but admittedly, sometimes I look at the schedule and think, "Another holiday? How can I squeeze in the time to make memories this time?" But then I never regret it when we do.
And we usually keep things pretty simple.

On St. Patrick's Day, we dressed in green
and that evening we had a green dinner in the backyard.
I blended spinach into the bread dough
and blended spinach into the smoothies
and the kids were none the wiser.
They gobbled it up (rare to have a meal that all three like!).
Funny how they gobbled up their green eggs (once again blended with spinach) and ham on Dr. Seuss' birthday, too. I love sneaking spinach into things.
As a side note, what's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
One of our favorites is a lesser-known one called "Have I Ever Told You How Lucky You Are?"
(Although, in the spirit of full disclosure I should tell you that our version is missing a page due to a bare bottom picture...)
We also love "The Bippolo Seed" and "The Sneetches."
But our favorite is "Horton Hatches the Egg." That faithful elephant is so fabulous!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Memories are Worth the Mess

Do you ever have what seem to be conflicting desires?
I find myself often wanting two things that directly oppose each other.
I love order and cleanliness. But I also really want to give our children freedom and encourage their creativity.
Those things don't often get along that well, you know?

Today one of my piano students didn't want to go out our front door after her lesson because there were some wasps flying around out there. So I walked her through the backyard to the gate.
I was a trifle embarrassed...the backyard featured a basketball hoop, a slide, a teeter-totter, a jungle gym, and a fire pit. The boys have been loving the spring weather and have been spending hours pretending outside--which meant that there were rocks, sticks, jump ropes, chairs, costumes, props, and lots of balls spread around, in addition to a large blanket that was still lying on the grass from the picnic we had enjoyed at lunchtime. All this was evidence of their games of knights, eagles, Dino-Trucks, cops & robbers, and so much more.

My 10-year-old student looked around the yard and said, "Wow...this is a really fun yard!" I responded, "It's kind of a mess right now..." and she said, "You have a lot of fun things. We just have a table and chairs."
Ah, yes...her yard likely looked much more like the beautiful sanctuaries featured in home magazines, I'm sure. But her wistful tone encouraged me and reminded me that the memories are worth the mess.

When we were finding a house to rent almost three years ago, I told Sam I would give up a lot on the house if it could just have a fenced in yard and a sidewalk in front of it. I am so grateful for this space and the way it has provided a backdrop for so many positive experiences for our littles.
Watching them happily engage in active play together is probably in my top 5 favorite things as a mother.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Picnics and Sledding

Today was WARM!!!
Like, 70 degrees warm!
It was blissful to me.
I determined that we would head over to the park and enjoy a picnic lunch, and then I thought I would invite my sister to meet us there. I picked up my phone to text her and discovered...a text from her, inviting us to meet them at the park for a picnic! That sister-bond runs deep...
And also, this weather screams picnic.

But I also enjoyed the pictures my other sister shared with me today
of the sledding excursion we had at Christmas time.
I am a warm-weather girl, but I do love the variety Utah gives us.
Sledding is so great.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Zoo with Old Friends

I was very fortunate in college to have three of the best friends a girl could ask for.
Our little group was so cohesive that if others in our apartment complex saw one of us without a companion, we were usually questioned as to where they were.
I have so many wonderful memories from those years...
like reading the Book of Mormon in one day,
late night runs to the temple,
confronting giant dead fish at Deer Creek,
morphing into cookie-delivering ninjas,
accidentally knocking down an entire tower of shoe boxes at the mall,
and eating destroyed birthday cake off the kitchen floor.

Two of those friends now live in Utah, just an hour or so away from me!
The three of us had our most recent babies all within a month and a half,
and we've been able to get together a few times lately, which has been so amazing.
It's tough to find friends who can pick up exactly where you last left off,
regardless of how many miles or how much time has divided you.
A few weeks ago, we spent a snowy morning together at the zoo.
We are anxiously awaiting the day we can be reunited with our fourth companion, as we haven't all been together since college. These girls are such treasures in my life.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Manner of Mothers

"The true strength of any nation, society, or family lies in those qualities of character that have been acquired for the most part by children taught in the quiet, simple everyday manner of mothers."
-Gordon B. Hinckley

The above quote spurred a long conversation between Sam and I tonight.
I mentioned how intimidating that notion was, and how I always feel that I am falling short.
"Tell me more about those feelings," he probed with concern.

And so our discussion turned to my inadequacies and the questions I wrestle with constantly about finding the balance between actively teaching our children and providing an environment for them to learn freely and independently.
We talked about my hopes for our children and whether I need to change anything in my mothering in order to help those hopes to be realized.
We talked about the challenge of caring for a very demanding baby while still being actively involved with our other children.
We talked about the desire that exists within us to constantly improve whatever it is we're doing.
We talked about the importance of helping children become securely attached by simply being available when they have needs that arise.

At the end of our discussion, I had sorted through some of my concerns
and I felt bolstered by the strength, love, and encouragement of my companion in parenting.
I still feel inadequate,
but as one friend said,
motherhood needs to be overwhelming. God cares too much about the welfare of His children to let us take it casually. It is intentionally made difficult so that we will turn to Him.

Often the challenge seems to come not in the day-to-day responsibilities
but in the weight I feel of the importance of mothering
and in the agonizing over whether I am doing enough.
But in all of my questioning, this I know:
The most important gift I can give them is a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Best

It started with a headache.
By Saturday evening, I was getting chills all over and my neck was throbbing.
As soon as the kids were in bed, I curled up in a ball in bed shaking uncontrollably,
frigidly cold despite my fever and aching from head to toe.

Sam talked me into taking a fever reducer and,
when he discovered the stuff in the cabinet had expired,
he went to the store despite my protests and came home with medicine
and peanut butter & chocolate gelato.
And then he took care of the baby, who had woken up crying,
and I listened to him in the other room excitedly telling his captive baby audience
exactly how many sunrises were left until Christmas.

And then, the next morning, as I lay in bed, cuddling with a napping baby,
I listened to him playing "scripture pictionary" and "scripture Jeopardy" with the big boys.
They sat around the table for the majority of Sunday morning while their Daddy played and taught.

And then they headed off to Church,
and I stayed at home to finish getting better
and stare into space in an awe-induced stupor
because I get to be married to him.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Little Laugh

The other day I walked upstairs and found this.
I don't know why it cracked me up so much, but I found it hysterically funny.
Apatosaurus (?) doesn't look so thrilled about T-Rex's piggyback ride,
but T-Rex looks like he's having the time of his life.
His hands are even positioned perfectly!

Is this hilarious, or am I just ultra sleep-deprived?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Proud of His Trick

This little dude thinks his trick with Daddy is the coolest thing.
He gets the most proud smile on his face when he is standing up that way.
He is totally determined to walk and is already beginning to shuffle along the furniture.
He is constantly trying to pull himself up to stand.
Wesley was our earliest walker, at about 8.5 months.
But Maxwell may give him a run for his money--he is determined to keep up with his brothers.
He thinks they are the cat's meow!
I can't really disagree--they are pretty great!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On Being Spontaneous

They basically dictate my life.
I have schedules for the days of the week--assigned days for outings with the boys, library day, grocery day, stay-at-home day, errand day...
I have schedules that delineate when I get ready, when I prepare meals, when I read scriptures, when I update our budgeting spreadsheet, when I fold laundry, and even when I read to the boys.
I have household chores assigned to each day of the week.
I have certain breakfast and lunch menus assigned to particular days of the week and I write out a dinner calendar each month.
I put my babies on a feeding schedule from day one,
and I try to work out a sleep schedule as quickly as possible.

And I could go on for a while.
I simply crave order and predictability.

And yet, motherhood is very seldom predictable.
It has been a long-time goal of mine to stick to my written schedules more fully...
but somehow I'm not able to schedule diaper blowouts, sick children, emergency laundry loads, and spilled smoothies.
And I have to fight frustration because of it.
My days are almost never as schedule-oriented as I plan for them to be.

I'm trying to be a little more spontaneous--
to do things even when, according to my schedule, it isn't time to do them yet.
A couple of weeks ago Lincoln asked me to help him with the breastplate/cape combination he wanted to wear...which had a big 'T' on it for 'Talmage,' because Talmage and Wesley got them for their birthdays a couple of years ago and I had never made one for Lincoln.
So right then and there, I abandoned my to-do list and set out to make Lincoln a breastplate/cape of his own.
He was so excited that afternoon when I finished it and he proudly wore his 'L' around the backyard,
frolicking with his brothers in his newfound heroic acts.

So while I don't think I'll ever abandon my schedules
(they help me be so much more productive and achieve something approaching balance in life),
I am trying to recognize those times when I need to abandon the schedules and lists
and embrace the spontaneity of motherhood.
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