Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

We had such a lovely Memorial Day together as a family.
We headed up to a small town in Northern Utah to visit the graves of several of my ancestors. One of them was quite prominent in early Church history--he even dedicated one of the cornerstones of the Salt Lake temple! It was fun to meet some other descendants who were there putting flowers on the same graves. It just so happened that the woman I spoke with was in my late grandparents' ward in Idaho, but they never knew they shared a common ancestor!
We visited some others in a different part of the cemetery.
My eyes misted over when I read the inscription on the headstone of my distant uncle, who died when he was just a month old--
"Only hidden from our gaze."

The boys loved visiting the graves.
I expected them to tolerate it, but they thought it was the coolest thing. I shared some stories with them on our way up, and they loved feeling how peaceful that small-town cemetery is.

Then we headed down the road to a local Amish Market.
Once again, the boys just loved it!
A highlight was a bank that was hiding a fake spider that would jump out at you when you slid back the lid.
When it first jumped on Talmage's face, the boys laughed hysterically for several minutes.
We bought lunch here and wandered around the store, taking in the sights.
On our way home Wesley said we should work on going to that store more than Smith's...if only!

After an afternoon of some work around the house,
Sam, Talmage, and Wesley headed to our church building to play basketball with his brothers and a friend.
Those who know best say he's still an amazing basketball player--I love having opportunities to watch him!
But I stayed at home with Lincoln and Maxwell and prepared dinner for everyone.
After a couple of hours, they came to the house and we had another birthday celebration for Sam with cilantro-lime chicken quesadillas, chips and pico de gallo, lemon-broccoli bowtie pasta, watermelon, and peanut butter oreo ice cream pie. I think food is his love language...
I love how excited he gets over the meals I make him.
Sam and his brother played ping-pong while his brother's wife and I talked pregnancy--they are expecting a baby boy this Fall! That makes 100% boys for the boys in Sam's family!

All in all, it was a beautiful, peaceful day.
I'm so glad we had the chance to celebrate our ancestors and teach our boys to love and honor them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Right There Beside Me

Several years ago,
I made a mistake that put the life of one of our children in danger.
The crushing realization of what could have happened sent me into a dizzying tailspin
of horrible trauma.

Many were the nights I sobbed on my knees,
pleading with Heavenly Father to help me never make a similar mistake again.
I experienced a great deal of anxiety for years afterward.
In particular, when I was alone and away from my children, my thoughts would begin to revisit that terrible day and fear and anxiety would well up within me until I could safely hold each of my children in my arms once again.
I felt unbelievably insecure as a mother and doubted my ability to properly care for my children.

One night, about two years later, I was having a particularly difficult time.
I spent another long while on my knees, tearfully pleading with God before sleep finally overcame me.
The next day, a strange thing happened.

I headed out to run some errands.
I got the children loaded in the car and went to grab my keys out of my purse.
I discovered that they weren't there and realized I had left them in a backpack inside.
I tried to re-enter the house to grab my keys and found that, somehow, one of the kids had twisted the lock in the doorknob on their way out which meant we were completely locked out.

There we were.
No keys, no cell phone, sitting in our garage, locked out of our house.

I ran to the law office next door and explained my predicament and asked if I could use their phone.
Frantically, I called Sam to get numbers for some ward members.
A few phone calls later, the Relief Society president came and picked us up and took us to the landlord's office to get the extra key...which they couldn't find.
So, she then took me to a friend's house and we spent the remainder of the day with her,
waiting until Sam came home with his keys.

Just a run-of-the-mill, frustrating experience, right?
Actually, no.
It left a big impression on me that changed my life forever.

Because I felt that that entire experience was a direct answer to my prayerful pleadings the night before.
Because it showed me that there will always be circumstances outside of my control
where mistakes are made or accidents happen
when I have to accept that there is no way for me to entirely take control of the well-being of my children.
It's really, really hard to accept,
but once I came to realize and accept that, I felt oddly liberated.

It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders
because I learned to trust in God more fully. Suddenly, I knew the responsibility to mother these precious souls was not mine alone and that God will make up for my failings, just as He did on that horrifying day years ago.

I have been humbled as a mother time and time again
as I see that my efforts simply are not enough, no matter how good my intentions are.
But the amazing thing is that they don't have to be enough.
Because Heavenly Father is right there beside us,
helping us and strengthening us and compensating for our failings in this daunting journey of motherhood.

And trusting in Him brings us the greatest peace along the way.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Give Me All the Monkeys

there is nothing like a good bed-jumping.
From a photographic perspective, these pictures are nothing special.
There is very little natural light in our room and the walls are dark, so the pictures are super grainy
and sometimes a little blurry and the shadows are harsh.
But they are full of JOY.
And so I love them.

PS-Speaking of joy, today is my man's birthday!!! He has brought us so much joy, and I'm so excited to spend the day celebrating him. In fact, we have celebrations planned all weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


This boy makes us much.
A few of my favorite recent Lincoln-isms:

-Last week we were at the library. Lincoln was talking to a little boy and brought him over to see Maxwell. "This is Maxwell," he told him with a completely straight face. "I named him that. When I was at Texas, I used to call him 'Shum-Pum.' But then one day, I had the idea to call him Maxwell. So we did!"

-His teachers at Church helped him fill out a Mother's Day survey. It said, "My mom is funny when..." His written response? "Mommy isn't funny! Maxwell is!"

-The boys were playing with a set of dominoes we gave Sam's brother, and Lincoln wanted to open the package that had 4 little trains in it. I told him that we weren't going to open them because I didn't want them to get lost in the building we were in. A few minutes later he came over to me, holding the lid of the dominoes tin, and, running his finger carefully along a line of words, said, "It says, 'The trains won't get lost.' So we can play with them!" Unfortunately for him, I actually know how to read, so his ploy didn't work.

-Today at the park a little boy asked what his name was and without skipping a beat he said, "I'm Enos! He's a scripture hero!"

-Speaking of scripture heroes, on Sunday Lincoln was insistent that Nephi wore a cape. His brothers were discussing whether or not it was true and I tried to settle the matter by saying, "Maybe it was a cloak." Lincoln replied, "NO, he wears a cape! Because my teacher said Nephi is one of her heroes, so I know he has a cape!" Obviously. Sheesh, Mom.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

All for Naught

This morning, I was just gearing up to head to the grocery store
when I received a phone call and found out that someone would be coming in a couple of hours to take video of every room of our house for the owners.
I'm a pretty tidy person, but I do have 4 kids, and as such, I cancelled our plans to go to the store
and began cleaning the house from top to bottom to get it ready.
I dusted pictures, organized books, started laundry, swept and mopped the floors, cleaned up the backyard, collapsed and put away the big, unsightly exersaucer, cleaned the kitchen, put away a massive pile of Lego creations, wiped fingerprints off the sliding glass door, etc. etc.

And all the while, I'm sorry to say,
I felt frustration toward the kids.

Maxwell was fussy, wanting to be held, and crawling around undoing my work.
Wesley and Lincoln were just being kids--which meant they were getting out toys and asking for crumb-creating snacks. Lincoln stuck a pretzel inside the spout of a water bottle at one point and then cried because it was irretrievable. With annoyance I threw the water bottle in the trash and started a show on the computer for Lincoln and Wesley so that I could clean up without my work being undone.

Finally, I was satisfied with the appearance of the house,
and I settled down to wait for the guy to arrive.
We waited.
And waited.
And read books.
And delayed naps.
And delayed lunch.
And kept the house in perfect order.
Until finally he told me that he actually wasn't going to make it today and would come later this week.

All that work, and all that frustration...
all for naught.
I fed my hungry kids lunch,
put them down for naps,
and felt immediately remorseful for my frustration toward them in the midst of the frenzy.
I lay down next to one angelic sleeping boy and wrapped my arms around him
and my eyes filled with tears.
Because sometimes all I want to do is rock my babies and read them stories and dote on them all day long,
but although we say "the cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow,"
sometimes it just can't.
And sometimes it's extra hard for me to be patient as I try to manage it all.

But, once again, as I lay there holding my boy,
I recommitted to slowing down and not dwelling too much on things of little importance.
And this afternoon, we ate popcorn and drank smoothies on the back porch
and this evening Chick-fil-a earned our business,
and I gave butterfly kisses and lots of cuddles tonight
and ended the day with a greatly improved disposition.

And I guess I'll get another chance to make the house spotless while being totally patient later this week...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good for the Soul

Last night for Family Home Evening
we transplanted our seedlings into our garden.
First we talked about the parallels between growing seeds
and growing our testimonies.
We talked about how we saw our seedlings grow toward the sunlight and how Christ is like the sunlight in our lives.
We talked about keeping weeds out of our lives that would crowd out the sunlight.
The boys were so excited to plant the seedlings.
They ran back and forth from the bathroom sink to the garden with cups of water to carefully pour onto the newly transplanted plants after gently patting the dirt around their fragile stems.
And then they ate no-bake cookies
and stayed up talking and laughing in bed until I finally told them it was time to stop and go to sleep.

Gardening is good for the soul.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On My Lap

Today during Church Talmage asked to sit on my lap.
His feet nearly touched the floor as they dangled down in front of me,
and his upper body blocked my view.
He was too big to make it a comfortable experience for either one of us, really,
but I held him close all the same,
because I knew that it was one of the last times he would ever ask to sit on my lap.

Have you ever read this book?
It's a definite tear-jerker...
it addresses how we, as parents, celebrate the "firsts" of our children--
their first steps, their first word, their first time riding a bike--
but we can't celebrate or make note of their "lasts" most of the time,
because we never know when they will be.

Was today the last time my oldest boy will ask to sit on my lap?
When will I read him the last storybook?
When will he last say his prayers aloud for me to hear?

It's amazing how, as parents, we experience such a paradox of emotions
as we yearn to go back to the past and make it last longer and yet simultaneously anxiously anticipate the future.
My goal is to be present enough in the here and now that I can fully appreciate every moment,
whether it is a first, a last, or one of the multitude that falls in between.

Today, Talmage,
despite your lanky body and long legs,
you were my baby for a little longer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

All the Time

Sometimes Utah decides it's a good idea to snow in mid-May.
And then my body goes into shock and it becomes nearly impossible for me to warm up.
Luckily for me, Sam radiates a lot of body heat.
The other day I thanked him for helping me stay warm through the night and he said,
"I'm so glad I can help you while in a comatose state."

What can I say?
He's a helpful guy, 24/7.

I'm looking forward to a nice SUNNY weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Messages

This boy...
he's just getting so big.
I find myself asking him what the date is when I've forgotten,
he is constantly spouting off facts from the latest non-fiction book he's read,
he plays with fidget spinners and kendamas,
and he is a pro at mental math.

I love that friendship still knows no boundaries to him...
he frequently plays with kids several grades older than him at recess,
and he has no qualms about playing with girls.
The other day a group of neighborhood kids knocked on the door
(mostly girls older than him),
and gave him a slug they had found because they knew he would love it.
It's still hard for me at times to feel so disconnected from the majority of his day,
but I gain a lot of insight from the little snippets he shares with me.

Today he was a little upset about some challenges with friends.
We talked about how he felt that they were playing unfairly,
and he was furious when they told him that he would play the same way if he was in their position.
He was adamant that he would not play unfairly.
We discussed his feelings and then we talked about what he could do to make things right with these particular friends. I was surprised when he said,
"In our class we have 'I Messages.'"
And then he spoke about how he used 'I Messages' to tell them that he felt frustrated when they played that way and they apologized to him, so the problem was taken care of.

He's responsible, mature, confident, smart, and dependable.
He's also still 7 years old,
which means he still likes me to cuddle him close when he says his prayers,
he still loves going on outings with his parents,
he still thinks our jokes are hilarious,
and he still loves the notes I send him in his lunch.

I'm so glad he's ours.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Little Things

Pictures are great, aren't they?
I love going back and looking at old pictures and re-living moments from the past.
But I wish there was a way to preserve an experience more entirely...
right now I am soaking in the little things about the kids.
Maxwell is on the brink of walking
(he's been able to stand for a couple of weeks now, although he's still unsure about it),
and I know that all too soon the baby phase will be just a memory.

I long to be able to later re-experience the way his chubby cheeks feel against mine in the morning when I get him out of his crib,
the way he sucks on his bottom lip in concentration,
the dimpled knuckles and creases on his wrists,
the way his long lashes rest on his cheeks as he takes in his surroundings,
and his crazy fast crawling and urgent panting when he sees something he wants.

But since I can't bottle all of that up,
I'll settle for pictures of the little things for now.
Babies are magical.

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