Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Pouf


I am a long-term planner and a dreamer.
And when I get an idea in my head, I can be a bit obsessive until it's accomplished.
So keep those traits in mind when I tell you that I was in High School when I started thinking about buying a LoveSac to go in my room.
Not only did I like the idea of having a large, comfortable fluff-ball in my room for homework, scripture study, reading, and more,
but my dreams of marriage and motherhood were never far from the surface of my mind and I could easily envision the fun my future children would have with such a piece of furniture,
especially since I spent a good chunk of my childhood flinging myself down the stairs into a similar "pouf" that my uncles gave my parents when they were married.

It was a highlight of my childhood, to be sure.

Well, one day I looked up LoveSacs on Ebay to see what my options might be,
and lo and behold, there was someone selling a bunch of new ones from a warehouse about 40 minutes from our home.
I stewed over it for a while and finally my sister convinced me to take the plunge.
So I called, made arrangements to come pick one up, and handed over a few hundred dollars of my hard-earned money that I could never bring myself to spend.

Would I regret such a big purchase?
Me, the girl who wouldn't even spend $10 on clothing in High School?
I don't think I ever regretted it in High School,
but I can tell you that I NEVER regret it now.
I became a mom only about 4 years later, and ever since then this "pouf" has provided constant entertainment for our family.

Yesterday the boys and I pulled it out of the playroom and they began climbing up into the nook above the fireplace (which is currently empty) and launching themselves into the air, landing safely in its cushy goodness.
And today after school the fun continued.

They jump down the stairs into its puffy depths,
we cuddle and read stories in it,
we throw and flip the boys into it in all sorts of fun ways (Sam especially loves this one),
and it has hosted plenty of naps.

It's basically another member of our family.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

House Names

For those who have become acquainted with my love of charm, nostalgia, and whimsy,
it will come as no surprise that I felt a desire to name each of our homes.
I yearned to describe each home in a way that summed up the magical experiences we had within those walls together--something much more than "our Texas house."
And so, sometime early last year, we named each of our homes (our apartments haven't made the list yet).

PalmRose Place

This sweet little duplex holds such a dear place in my heart!
In the flower bed by the front door, there was a palm tree that quickly grew to be taller than the house.
One day, construction vehicles appeared and tore down the tree. A short time later it was replaced with rose bushes.
(Thus the name.)
Oh, how we loved that little walkway, home to sidewalk chalk drawings, playtime with the neighbor's cat, digs in the wood chips, conversations with piano students' moms, and even a fun experience with a turtle that appeared outside the door one day!
The balcony overlooking the enormous backyard made such a magical place for our porch swing,
and so many hours were spent swinging and playing there.
Within these walls our family grew to 5 members, we made decisions about grad school and a post-doc, we scrimped and made-do and saw miracles in our lives, and we rejoiced endlessly as a family.
PalmRose Place, I will forever look on you with tremendous fondness.

Mulberry Garden

This sweet little home gets its name from 2 sources:
-the enormous mulberry tree that provided a leafy canopy over half the backyard and
-our first garden we planted as a family.

We spent so much time together playing in the shade of that mulberry tree.
Its branches tickled the window of the master bedroom and attracted birds by the dozens.
We hung pinecone birdfeeders from its branches and our boys learned of the joy that comes from climbing trees in the midst of its sturdy limbs.
Our first garden brought us so much happiness, even though we had to leave this home before it produced any fruit. I began to love yard work with a passion here.
I think our boys spent more waking hours outside than in, which is just the way we like it.
Mulberry Garden will always be such a unique place of peace and contentment for us...
bright green kitchen and all.

Sunset Hollow

I knew what this home would be named before we even moved in.
The perfect views of the exquisite Utah sunsets over the Great Salt Lake from the window above the kitchen sink and the balcony off the master bedroom and the forested hollow that sank down below the home instantly combined in my mind to set this house apart.
Our time here was very brief--indeed, years shorter than we expected it to be--but it was home for every one of the 5ish months we lived here.
I neglected to take a picture of it until we were moving in late November and the plants had died,
but we were surrounded by gorgeous aspens with their golden leaves through early fall, many varieties of lilies (my favorite!) in the flower beds, a Japanese maple, an enormous blackberry bush, and a terraced backyard that was perfect for sword-fighting little boys.
High windows had been strategically placed in the front and back of the house to provide perfect views of the mountains from this little home's perch in the foothills.
I felt pretty sick during most of the time we lived here, being pregnant, but the boys made fast friends in the neighborhood and spent so many hours with kids from all up and down the street--riding bikes, exploring, raking leaves, and just playing together.
It was idyllic in so many ways.

Now we have a new home to love.
And though all of our homes thus far have been rentals,
each one has had a special place in our hearts.
Someday soon I hope we will buy a home and truly make it ours,
complete with chickens, apple trees, swings, and an enormous garden...
but in the meantime we'll find and create magic here.

Now to come up with a name...

Monday, January 29, 2018

Back to the Predictable

Oh, sweet Lincoln.


A couple of months ago, I lamented to Sam that 4 is usually one of my favorite ages but that I was really struggling with Lincoln and he was misbehaving constantly!
I mean, one could hardly blame him...
he's had a *few* big changes and transitions in his life,
not to mention a mom who is operating at about 50% capacity of normal.

But then a couple of weeks ago I felt impressed to start working hard to stick to my schedules again.
I'm basically never fully successful at following a daily schedule with 4 little ones,
but when I'm trying hard my effectiveness skyrockets!
So I brushed off the schedules that had fallen by the wayside over the past 6 months
and began again to do daily activity time, working on a workbook and having a reading lesson before nap time, and reading a chapter book aloud to Lincoln before nap time as well.
And, as if by magic, 4 became one of my favorite ages again.
The misbehavior drastically decreased and my little shadow and I have made many fun memories together.

It's amazing how often "problems" on the part of a child reflect something I need to change.

The World Is a Little Less Bright


Yesterday my good friend sent me a text message to let me know that Cindy, a dear, inspiring friend and example, had left this mortal life behind.
Though afflicted with pain and hardship throughout her entire life,
she had the spirit of optimism with her always and was constantly uplifting others.

I'm so grateful I had the chance to interview her a couple of years ago (see the post here)
and learn more of her life, faith, and positivity.
As I re-read the interview yesterday, I found it so poignant that her scripture of comfort was in Alma 40: "And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow."

Cindy has reached that point of comfort at last!
I can imagine her free of pain and limitation, happily serving just as she did all through her life.
The world is a little less bright, but the light of her example will never fade.

We love you, Cindy!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Patches


Meet Patches.

He was given to Maxwell by the neighbors at a Christmas party we were spontaneously invited in to.
And since then, Patches has been a regular part of bedtime and naptime for this little man.
He brings Maxwell so much comfort and it warms my heart to see him instantly wrap his little arms around the fluffy dog, snuggle his face into him, and go to sleep without protest.
And when he wakes up, he holds Patches with a death grip until he's been out of his crib for a while.
He loves cuddling for 10ish minutes after he wakes up, mashing his face into both me and Patches.
He's our first boy to be attached to an animal, and I think it's adorable.

 He also makes a great companion during freezing cold early-morning winter cuddles with brothers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

9 Years


Two days after Christmas marked our nine year anniversary.
And what a nine years it has been!
5 kids (almost), 6 homes, 3 states, and LOTS of school mark the record, to name just a few things.
Everything about our relationship has been a whirlwind, from the 7-week engagement to the crazy, snowy wedding day to the children that began coming rapidly just 9 1/2 months after our marriage...
it's all been such an exciting ride!

Sam took me out to a darling little Italian restaurant in an early-1900s house just off the town square,
while a quarter-million Christmas lights sparkled through the windows, adorning large trees, historic buildings, the gazebo, and the train.
Then we went on a wild hunt for hot chocolate (apparently coffee is more popular outside of Utah...who knew? ;)) and after finally getting our hands on a couple of cups, we set off on a tour of Christmas lights through the town. There are a few dozen homes in town who participate by decking their homes out in lights and decorations, and it was delightful to drive around and prolong Christmas just a bit!

The past nine years have been filled with lots of dreaming, lots of working and lots of sacrificing.
This year it has felt like "real life" has begun, and while I wouldn't say it's made us any happier than we were, there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from working toward goals together!
Every day I thank Heavenly Father for giving me such a kind, serving, hard-working man.
He understands me and connects with me in a way beyond anything words can express.
He knows just how to help me--when to offer advice, when to just listen, when to be empathetic, when to take action--it seems to be almost a sixth sense of his.

He has also taught our boys to dote on me non-stop.
As I've mentioned, this pregnancy has been really tough. One evening a couple of months ago, just after we moved and the boys started school here, they informed me that I had switched their sandwiches in their lunches so Wesley got jam and Talmage got honey...which was less than desirable for both of them.
It had been a really rough day and I was feeling overwhelmed with trying to meet everyone's needs.
I apologized with defeat and exhaustion spilling from my words,
and Sam gave the boys a gentle rebuke and told them not to demand things of me.
Immediately Talmage piped up, "Mom, what can I do to help you tomorrow?" Wesley joined in with a helpful inquiry of his own.
It was just a small incident, but it's one experience in a wide array of similar ones that have taken place over the years. I couldn't be more grateful that our boys get to be raised by such a loving man and thus be taught accordingly.

They are the luckiest.
I am the luckiest.
End of story.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Memphis Zoo

One awesome thing about the Memphis Zoo is that they have free afternoons every Tuesday!
When the boys were out of school for Christmas break, I thought we'd take advantage of the opportunity and we headed to the zoo for an afternoon...the coldest afternoon Memphis had seen in...oh...maybe 90 years?

It. was. FREEZING.

I have been plenty cold before and have experienced low temperatures,
but this was something else entirely!
The zoo was essentially a ghost town.
There was almost no one there. I kept worrying that we were going in areas that were closed because we literally saw only about 15 other guests the entire time we were there (most in the reptile house, where it was WARM!).
The animals were almost all put away, safe and warm and away from our curious eyes.
The waterfalls had frozen solid.
The boys and I ran from one indoor exhibit to the next, looking for anything away from the cold.

But in the end they all had a great time!
We loved watching the monkey creatures (baboons?) swing around. One seemed to think we were as interesting as we thought he was and he came right up to the window and peered out at us.
The panda eating bamboo was completely adorable,
and the alligator was perfectly creepy.

We didn't last long, but it was a fun outing in the midst of our very, very cold Christmas break!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Five


Yes, five.
FIVE boys!
I'm about 28 weeks along with #5 and we are so thrilled.

It's definitely been my toughest pregnancy so far, but I'll spare you all the details and just say that we feel very grateful.
And for those wondering, YES we are happy he is a boy!
I occasionally feel little twinges of longing for a girl when I see girls and their moms doing things together or think about the relationship I have with my own mom, but they are very fleeting. Overall I just love being a boy-mom, and I certainly get to have a lot of conversations with strangers about our line-up.
I want this baby to always know that he was loved from the beginning and that his parents didn't "wish he was a girl."

With all of the upheaval with a job change and a cross-country move, the pregnancy has kind of taken a seat on the back burner to simmer. Thankfully everything seems to be well with the baby...there is a slight abnormality with the placenta that puts me at a higher risk for a low-birth weight baby, so maybe that means this one won't be 11 pounds?
(Talmage was 7 lbs, 7 oz, Wesley was 8 lbs, 9 oz, Lincoln was 9 lbs, 3 oz, and Maxwell was 10 lbs, 2 oz!)

The ultrasound tech said he was the wiggliest baby but also the most cooperative baby of the month.
That seems right in keeping with our other boys.
Very busy, but pretty nice!

Tonight the boys were talking about how excited they are to be able to lay on the couch and cuddle him, and it brought a smile to my face to see their enthusiasm. I'm glad the excitement hasn't worn off yet, with so many of them.

I've definitely been "surviving" more than "thriving" over the last 6 months.
My due date is April 16, so less than 3 months left to go!
Bring on the basketball team!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Snow Day 2018

Today it snowed here in the mid-South.
And in this area, a light dusting of snow shuts down all schools,
so the boys have had a delightful snow day.

As snow was expected, their friends filled them in on the "snow magic" that is used to make the snow happen here in Tennessee.
And so last night our home was filled with anticipation as the boys
-wore pajamas inside out
-slept with spoons under their pillows
-put white crayons in the freezer
-flushed ice cubes down the toilet
-and looked out the bedroom window, made a wish for snow, did a crazy dance, and then hopped into bed.

I guess that "snow magic" worked, because despite the fact that it was 66 degrees last night,
this morning we woke up to an incredibly icy winter wonderland.
We had hot chocolate and pancakes and the boys bounced in and out for several hours,
the cold too frigid to keep them in the snow for long.

All in all, we got about an inch of snow.
Not bad, Memphis, not bad.

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