Thursday, August 30, 2018

Forever Frozen

I'm always filled with mixed feelings at the end of Summer break.
I miss my kids terribly and it's always a little hard for me to realize that they spend more waking hours in a day with their teachers than with me,
but at the same time I love the return to consistent routine and schedule.

When looking back at the passage of time,
I am often filled with a strong desire to freeze a moment so that I can fully take it in.
Every expression, every sound, every feeling seems so fleeting and I feel like I need a few minutes to soak it all in and fully appreciate experiences.
That is one reason I love photography so much.
It enables me to freeze time--at least the visual aspect--so that I can revisit those moments again and again and feel those same feelings.
Like this day at the splash pad.
In looking back, I can carefully study my son's facial expression as it is frozen in tremendous excitement, or see the beautiful way the water droplets tumble over a boy, indefinitely suspended in orderly chaos.

I tend to have a one-track mind and I'm not very good at multi-tasking.
So capturing these individual moments in time makes it possible for me to more fully relish it all in hindsight.
And that makes the passage of time a little more bearable for this sentimental mama.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Thousand Questions and Gorgeous Peaches

I feel like I'm constantly redefining my role as a mother.
When all of my children were at home, I felt relatively confident in what I was doing.
We played together, I taught them to share and love and be kind and we had consistent Gospel lessons.
Looking back, it all seems so simple.
I'm sure one day I'll look on this stage of life I'm in and think to myself, "It was so simple!"
But right now it doesn't seem that way.

Constant questions swirl through my head, and I honestly feel like I have no idea what I am doing.
"How do I decide which friends to let my kids play with when I don't know them or their parents?"
"How many chores should I expect my kids to do? I want them to learn to work hard, but they come home from school where they only have 1 recess (and half the time it's cancelled) and I feel like they need some solid time to just PLAY."
"Which extra-curricular activities should I allow when they are all taking my kids out of our home even more?"
"Should I homeschool my kids?"
"Should I give my kids more freedom or crack down harder on rules?"
"Should we have more kids? We love the dynamics of very large families, but I hate the mother I become when I am pregnant, sick, and emotionally out of whack."
"How do I do my part to keep my kids safe without being a helicopter parent? Where is the balance?"
"Are we too strict with our media standards? Too lax?"

These and endless other questions circle through my mind all day long.
And every time my kids ask me something like, "Can I go see if _______ can play?"
or "Can I join this club?"
I feel a little bit paralyzed.
I am grateful we have the guidance of the Spirit, but I feel like often there is no clear direction.

I guess there's really no point in writing this but to let the Internet world know that I am clueless as I try to navigate this tricky thing called motherhood.
I love it so, so much, and it is because of that love that I feel the weight of it so profoundly.

In other news, peaches are gorgeous.
I'm so grateful for the orchard near our home that made it possible for me to can bushels of peaches again this year.
Somehow, canning peaches always feels like coming home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Grandma Sue and Aunt Kellie's Visit

A few weeks ago,
we were so lucky to have Sam's mom and sister come visit us!

A few highlights:
-We visited the zoo where the boys got to pet a baby crocodile and see a zookeeper hold a baby alligator snapping turtle. They also loved seeing the HUGE komodo dragons!
-We celebrated Maxwell's birthday and the boys loved the balloons Aunt Kellie and Grandma Sue got for them! Maxwell carried one purple balloon around to our activities the following day, super attached to it.
-Sam took Kellie and the older boys to "hike" (it's always weird to call it a hike when it's not in the mountains) along Stanky Creek. Seriously. That's the real name.
-We visited the Riverwalk Park where the boys got soaked from head to toe which made for a very chilly time at lunch at City Silo afterward (thanks, Kellie!). The restaurant had super yummy health food and we enjoyed acai bowls, super delicious sandwiches, quinoa bowls, and smoothies. Memphis is a lot more of a BBQ destination than a place for health food. At the risk of ostracizing our family from our fellow Memphians, I will say that Sam and I aren't big meat eaters so BBQ doesn't have much appeal to us. City Silo provided me with lots of new dinnertime inspiration.
-We had a pretty awesome game of Cranium (my favorite!) one night after the boys were in bed.
-We went to Church where Sam's mom and I randomly provided the object lesson to illustrate Ruth and Naomi.
-Grandma Sue told the boys about being chased by a headless chicken, so naturally they all put their shirts up over their heads and became crazy headless chickens themselves.
-The boys had a water fight with the new water guns from Grandma.
-Kellie and Grandma made us an amazing gourmet meal for Sunday dinner--almond flour wraps with hummus and arugula, provencal chicken, roasted rutabaga, and super delicious strawberry endive boats with goat cheese and honey!

It's always a bit sad to say good-bye, but we were able to wave and say, "See you in 4 1/2 months!" because our Christmas visit is on the horizon!! We're so excited!
My sister is flying here for a visit today--we are getting spoiled with a summer full of family visits!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sunday Snapshots

Goodness, I think these boys are so lucky to have each other.
That's all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Maxwell's Second Birthday

Sam's mom and sister were in town the week before Maxwell's birthday, so we decided to celebrate while they were here. The following week when he was sick and throwing up on his birthday, I was extra glad we had celebrated early!
We decided that instead of presents we would get a family zoo membership.
I just picked up a simple set of toy zoo animals for him to open and he was totally delighted by them,
and we went to the zoo with Grandma and Aunt Kellie, which was lots of fun!
They picked up the balloon bouquet for Maxwell to enjoy and filled the house with lots more balloons besides.
Maxwell is completely enamored by all animals and his reactions to them are hilarious.
I'm excited to have a year of lots of zoo visits with our animal lover!

A few tidbits about Maxwell at age 2:

-His talking is finally starting to take off and I love getting a glimpse of what is going on in his mind. I love how he says, "shanks!" when we give him compliments or items, how he shrieks, "WHAT?!," how he loudly exclaims, "BUS!" every time he sees one, how he tells me to "wook!" at things, and how the other day, when I was changing his diaper and he didn't want me to hold onto his legs, he said very slowly and adamantly, "WET...GO." He has a deep, husky voice that cracks us up to no end.

-He is an observer. He generally prefers to sit back and watch new experiences for a while before jumping in, but then he knows exactly how to do what he sets out to do once he gives it a go.

-He seems to have a logical mind. I say he's like a little engineer because he seems to have a natural grasp of numerical and spatial reasoning. We have a set of 12 blocks with 3 different sizes of balls inside of them. Shortly after his first birthday, he made 3 towers of 4 blocks, and I realized that he had stacked only the blocks with the same size balls in each tower. He loves order and patterns.

-He is kind of a clean freak and will frequently clean things up without being asked or bring stray items in from the car when we come into the house. He especially hates having things on his hands and got really mad when he saw sores all over them during his bout with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

-He loves animals and does hilarious imitations of them, he loves balls of any kind. He adores music and has hysterical dance moves and he frequently asks me to play the "I Am a Child of God" music video.

-He is totally enamored by his big brothers and follows them around everywhere, but he can also deliver an amazingly hard punch when he feels something is unjust. He has a very special love of Benson and I often say, "Were you just waiting for your best friend to arrive?" because the two of them seem to share a really special bond. Benson is happily fascinated by Maxwell despite the often less-than-soft touches.

-And one last story that demonstrates his orderly nature: A couple of weeks ago I was making cookies and realized I didn't have one ingredient so I ran to the store, taking Maxwell with me and leaving the other kids with Sam. I was in a huge rush, as Sam and I were about to leave on a date and I needed to finish the cookies so we could deliver them, so we booked it in and out of the store and then I buckled Maxwell into his carseat. As I started the car, Maxwell began pointing out the window and shouting, "NOOOO!!! NO!" I said some soothing words and continued on our way home, only to arrive and realize that I had left our groceries in the cart! I hadn't noticed, but the almost-2-year-old had!

We love our little Maxwell boy!

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