Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Birthiversimas!

This was our very first Christmas on our own, and so much fun! Benjamin woke up at about 7 a.m., as usual, but Paul and I had already been awake a little while, partly in anticipation, and partly because I was waking up every half hour to blow my nose, suffering from a cold and a horrible NyQuil-induced sleep. Paul went into his room while I went into the front room with the camera ready to take pictures, but he wouldn't come out of his room. Finally after some coaxing, he came out, bleary-eyed and confused to see what Santa had brought him. It took a few minutes for him to warm up to the excitement, but he had a fun day.
His big presents from Santa included a climber slide thing, a Little People barn and zoo lot, and a soccer ball (which was his clear favorite). He also got nice presents from his grandparents; a Little People Noah's Ark and a green wooden marble track (my dad made this to replicate the one his grandfather made for him when he was a kid that we all still play with when we come over). He loves all his presents though, and has been playing with all of them all week.
For Christmas Eve dinner, I surprised us all with a pretty good ham. I didn't want to buy a huge 5 pound ball of meat, so I bought a ham "steak" with no clue how I was going to prepare it. Anyways, I ended up pan frying it in butter and maple syrup and it turned out pretty good! We had a nice fancy table setting and sparkling grape juice to go with our meal. It was fun. Then we told Benjamin the condensed Christmas story from Luke and put him to bed. The rest of the evening, we spent setting up Christmas, cleaning up and just relaxing by the fire. Paul was nice enough to scoop a dead bird out of the fire place and build us a nice Christmas Eve fire.
For breakfast, we enjoyed beautiful, fluffy home-made orange rolls, bacon, eggs, grapefruit and orange juice. It was a treat!
Mainly we were spoiled by our parents this year with our presents, but we also got each other some nice things. Santa brought Paul some sweet kicks for Christmas, but there's no way he could like his present as much as I liked mine. Paul surprised me with a "Magic House" year-pass, which I was SO excited about! The Magic House is one of the best-rated family attractions in the U.S and happens to be just 5 minutes down the road from us. Since it costs $7.50 for children AND adults, I've never justified going, but with the pass, it'll pay for itself in less than 4 times. So I call that my ticket to sanity for the winter since it's too cold to go to the zoo or the playground.
On the 28th, we celebrated Paul's 27th Birthday! We had a nice relaxing day together and a plain yellow birthday cake with no frosting, which was what he requested. Paul says he doesn't mind, but he celebrates his anniversary, Christmas and birthday all within 10 days. hence the term we coined for it-his birthiversimas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is our THIRD Anniversary! I just wanted to publicly announce that I love Paul! I feel so blessed to have him in my life forever. He is so sweet and patient with me, and an incredible example of love and service. I'm so proud of him for everything that he's accomplished thus far!
These have been the best three years of my life, without question. So here are a few highlights since we've known each other.

1. A magical night of frisbee in Nottoway Park where we both grew up
2. Two proposals- one in my backyard, the next overlooking a canyon and the back of Timpanogos with the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen
3. A road trip to Oregon and surfing in November
4. One amazing wedding weekend with a reception the night before
5. Christmas in Merida
6. Living in Union Square (we call this the Marshmallow Matey's phase in our life- the little cereal indulgence we often gave into)
7. Camp out in the desert and sledding down the sand dunes
8. Finding out we were pregnant
9. My graduation and art show
10. The five months living with Paul's parents
11. Slot Canyon and Goblin Valley adventures
12. Living in Wymount (we call this the PB & C Crunch phase of our life for the same reason as mentioned above)
13. Having a baby and becoming parents for the first time together
14. Enduring one long, brutal summer of sleepless nights without AC and a newborn together
15. Road trip with Paul's family to California and a trip to the east coast for a beach vacation with my family
16. Paul's graduation/transition into the Master's program
17. Finding the perfect job in St. Louis and knowing that was where we were supposed to be
18. Paul graduating from BYU with his Master's (pending...)
19. Finding our house and moving to Kirkwood, Missouri

And too many more to mention....

Aside from our anniversary, we got a ton of snow this weekend- about six inches! There was probably only about 2 or 3 inches in these pictures, but Benjamin had a good time helping Daddy build a snowman. He likes it when we sing the "Snowman Song" and does the actions, so this was putting it all into real life for him!

Oh, and just this morning, Benjamin started saying "Uh, oh!" for the first time. Cute.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This and That

Today is Benjamin's 18 month birthday, and for any LDS person with kids that means NURSERY! I have to admit, I'm a little obsessively attached to the kid...maybe even more than he is to me, so this day brought on mixed feelings. I've actually been going to nursery with him these past several weeks because it was either that or the hall (a kid can only sit through only so much "SHHH!!"-ing and "Be reverent!"). So anyways, I thought he was doing pretty well and didn't care whether I was with him or not, and figured just maybe I could just slip out and leave him today. I was just settling into Sunday School with Paul when I heard wailing in the hall that sounded like Benjamin. Sure enough, the nursery leader had brought him to me, and so I went back with him to nursery. For the remaining two hours or so, I was being closely monitored so I couldn't pull another fast one on him. Any advice, mommy veterans?
So we've also had issues with our kitchen sink over the past month or so, and FINALLY got that resolved! I can't even tell you how nice it is to dump leftover soup down the disposal and turn on then water to wash it down. Small thrills, I know. The chain of events went something like this; we bought a new dishwasher to replace the old one, the first guy couldn't install it because he wasn't a plumber, the plumber couldn't install it because he wasn't an electrician, the electrician fixed the electrical, but couldn't install it because he wasn't a plumber, and finally another plumber installed it. Then, we started noticing the sink was backing up, so Paul decided to fix it himself. After plunging elbow deep in bilge water for a half-hour, our garbage disposal fell off the other side, and it's like a hundred years old and apparently was missing the seal, so we couldn't put it back on. So with the pipes taped off, we could still use one side of the sink (which was still clogged) but not the new dishwasher. So Paul bought a sewer snake to try to knock the blockage out himself. Though the elbow grease he put into working that thing was impressive (he worked for hours) he was getting nowhere. So we called a clog specialist, who reinstalled the broken disposal and told us we'd have to go in through the roof, but that we could rent the machine rather than pay someone $270/hour to do it. Ignoring his advice, we bought a drill to give the snake a little more force. Oh, and we replaced the garbage disposal. When the sink was backing up after just seconds of turning on the faucet, we decided it was time to call Roto-Rooter and it's now FIXED! HOORAY FOR WORKING SINKS!

Benjamin gives Daddy "kisses" by pressing his forehead into his cheek.

We got our first Christmas tree this year (it's our fourth married Christmas!) and decorated it with one inherited strand of lights, a bunch of cheap silver and white ornaments leftover from our wedding decor and a few nicer ones we've acquried over the years. But we think it looks beautiful!
This is what Benjamin does when you ask him what a fish says. Kind of a scary picture.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, November flew by! We can hardly believe Thanksgiving came and went and that it's Christmas time already. We took a long 12 1/2 hour drive out to Virginia for 9 days and had a wonderful time with both our families. Ironically, we only have one picture to show for it because the batteries in our camera died and we didn't realize we had another set of fresh ones until the drive back. Oh, well.
We started the drive on a late Friday afternoon and drove through the night in hopes that Benjamin would just sleep the whole time, but he spent half the night wanting to look around and read his books. We got in early Saturday morning and spent the week at my parent's house. My brother Nathan and Paul's family flew in on Tuesday. Highlights included TWO Thanksgiving dinners, some projects around the house, playing in an enormous pile of leaves, going to the D.C. Zoo, cousin Will's Baby Blessing, and a rather uneventful BYU-Utah Football game. We got to see Brigham and Alexandra's apartment right across the street from the zoo, and Josh and Anne's in Lexington on our way back. We had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Other Life

Well, Paul just left this morning on a quick business trip to Williamsburg , Iowa. Back at the homestead, we're dealing with drainage problems in the kitchen sink, which has been going on since Sunday evening. Paul's been plunging it, "snaking" it, and dumping boiling, soapy water dawn, but nothing. Hence, we have piles of smelly, dirty dishes all over the place. So we finally had a plumber come out today. He at least reinstalled the poorly installed garbage disposal (which is missing the seal) that had fallen off when Paul was plunging, but couldn't do much more than that since the basement is finished, and the pipes he needed to get into were behind finished walls. We're going to have to go through the roof....Darn finished basements! We also have yards and yards of cable running through the middle of the room since the walls prevent any access to the electrical wires, but we won't go into that....
Anyways, now seems to be a good time to take a break from it all and blog. I decided to take this chance to show that I have other obsessions in life besides Benjamin and taking pictures of him.
I have a lot of creative energy that I have to burn somehow, so here are some of my latest projects. This is a tiny paper cut-out I did of "Goldbug," one of Benjamin's favorite fictional characters, for his room.
This one is a work in progress, but is also a paper cut-out. It's another favorite storybook character of Benjamin's, "Drummer Hoff." I plan on finishing it and framing this one for his room also.

This is a watercolor I did this past Spring for Paul during his business trip to Switzerland. It's an olive tree.

So I joined an FHE group since I've been out here with a bunch of other moms. We get together about once a month and prepare lessons to make copies of and swap. I made this one of The Fall out of paint swatches. We had about a zillion of them lying around the house, and I couldn't bear to just throw them away! Anyways, this is a color copy of that, laminated with velcro backs for kids to pull on and off to tell the story.
And last, this was the first FHE lesson I did of the Creation. It's also laminated with velcro backs. I feel like if I can at least make these now, then I can try to have FHE lessons every week when Benjamin is old enough to listen to me for more than two minutes.
I'm also of course scrap-booking all of Benjamin's zillions of pictures, plus the few that Paul and I have from pre-Ben days. Then I'm working on a square 2 1/2 foot acrylic/collage painting incorporating the alphabet and numbers, but it's just started, so I didn't include a picture of that. Anyways, now you know what I'm really up to during the few spare moments I feel blessed to have!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Silly Boy...

I just have to say how fun Benjamin is getting. Yeah, he can throw a royal temper tantrum, and he's still a baby in a lot of ways, but he's becoming such a fun little boy! He loves helping me cook in the kitchen, and smelling (putting his mouth on) all the spices. Here he is, tasting the pizza dough and all the other compontents to make sure they're ok before we put it all together.

So the other day, I was in the other room, when I heard Benjamin in the kitchen, gulping something down. Being the good parent that I am, I dashed in, only to find him chugging my soymilk. I couldn't stop laughing. He usually turns down any juice, normal milk, etc. that I give him, and only accepts water. But somehow he'd found his way into the fridge for this special little treat that even I won't drink by the glassful!

Benjamin loves his duck costume, and admiring himself in it in our gi-normous living room mirrors. He doesn't use words yet, but he's got the head shaking thing down pat for any decisions I present him with. On this particular day, all of my reasonable clothing options were rejected with a vigorous head shake, and the duck costume won. But he had a good time playing in the leaves and getting it nice and dirty! Hey, isn't it a good thing if the costume gets more than one night's use?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkins, Ducks and Frogs

Benjamin patiently awaits Daddy's return home from work.
Benjamin likes our pumpkin. We had three, but Paul cooked the pie pumpkins already and made scrumptious pies, waffles and bread out of them. I think we still have some puree leftover too.
Here are the boys, working hard in the yard. Paul's been out there almost every night after work and every Saturday, getting the dirt ready to plant grass. The process involved removing a ton of mulch, a bunch of rocks, a few prickly bushes, a lot of old rotten tree roots, a brick patio which had a lot of sand underneath, and some patchy grass that was full of pot-holes. Then he turned dirt--about 600 square feet of it. Yesterday we completed the process by tilling the dirt with a hoe and leveling the yard to a smooth graded slope, covering it with a top mixture we made using the sand and some fertilizer, and seeding it. It was a long day, but it looks amazing! We're so excited to see the grass come up. We're pretty sure it's going to be golf-course quality with how much work we put into it!
We never did take "before" pictures, which we regret, but here's the "after"!

On Friday night, our ward had a Trunk-or-Treat party where all the kids were dressed up and we had dinner in the gym before heading out and going car to car. Benjamin was pretty excited about all the costumes, but this lion was especially appealing. The poor kid had Benjamin chasing him all night, trying to "pet" him. It does look like a pretty plush costume though!

Here is our cute little duckling. He was certainly a lucky duck too, staying out TWO hours past his bedtime--until 8:30!!!

He didn't quite get the hang of begging for candy, but he enjoyed chasing a remote controlled car with a demonic pumpkin on top, that was going all over the parking lot.

Look! A frog!

Benjamin wanted to "pet" the frog.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nauvoo Campout

Our ward went up to Nauvoo for a camping trip this weekend. It was loads of fun. We still don't know folks very well, so this was a good opportunity to get to know them better. We were stoked when the Bishop pulled out his guitar and others brought out their fiddles. They had an extra mandolin which I was thrilled about; it's been a very long time since I've played with anyone. We had a regular old hootenanny until midnight or so.

This was Benjamin's first campout. Although he fell asleep on the way up and didn't get to enjoy the campfire, when we woke up in the morning he was gleefully surprised. He looked around in the tent with a curious grin. He loved the woods and running around with the older kids.
Benjamin woke up at 6:30 and he and Paul went on a walk down by a nearby reservoir and then up to the Temple. Nauvoo was breathtaking in the morning. The sky turned smokey red as the sun came up, and the Temple looked like it was on fire.
Neither of us have been to Nauvoo since we were kids, and it was quite an experience. We all walked down Parley's street which goes straight down to the Mississippi. It's the street the Saints walked down when they left the city for the last time. There was a calm reverence there like a cemetery, but it felt happy and peaceful with the rebuilt Temple gleaming in the hills above. It is a really special place, and everyone should come out to see it, and while you're at it you can visit us!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tag, We're It!

Thanks, Karey for passing this along. We need to be better about keeping our blog updated!

What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:
Sarah: Ten years ago, I had just turned 14, brace-faced and a whopping 80 pounds. I had just had my first Sunday in Mia Maids, but more importantly, I had just attended my very first Oakton Stake Dance. To help me feel comfortable, my 17-year-old sister Rachel took me around during the slow songs and asked various boys to dance with me. It was pretty awkward. I was in 8th grade at Thoreau Middle School, and vaguely remember a Halloween Dance where I showed up proudly wearing royal blue corduroys and a matching multi-colored, collared, short-sleeved sweater...and stalking a 7th grader who I had a huge crush on. I was obsessed with my cat, Misty, and was an occasional closet-Barbie player (I had 3 little sisters to play with, and wasn't too excited to grow up).
Paul: I was about to turn 17. I was probably furious to be back in school especially because my friend Travis and I just got back from a random trip to Tahiti. I was also probably furious because most of my friends had already graduated. I was also probably furious about some social injustice and pretending to be a communist.

What I Was Doing 5 Years Ago:
Sarah: Five years ago, I had just turned 19 and had started my first semester as a Freshman at BYU. I was living at 1206 Hinckley Hall with Alison Faulkner, and I had met my name-twin down the hall, Sarah Elizabeth Lowe from Orange County, California. I was having the time of my life, finally going on lots of dates and staying up playing ultimate frisbee with the guys' hall every night. I had an All-Sports-Pass and went to all the football games with my brother, Bryan, who was finishing his last semester there. I was serving as Hinckley Hall's Publicity Chair, and helped decorate our building for Homecoming. I was trying to figure out what direction to take as an art-major, whether I wanted to go into Illustration or Studio Art. It was a fun time of life!
Paul: I was back from my mission for 10 months, bright eyed and bushy tailed, looking to progress on the "Ordinance Path." I was probably considering changing my major to middle eastern studies because one math or stat class was kicking my trash. I was certainly anxiously awaiting the first snow fall and hanging out all night with friends, seriously crushing on a 28 year old. I think I was living with my brother, Brigham, in a swanky condo.

One Year Ago:
One year ago, we were living in Wymount 469, and Benjamin was 4 months old just learning how to sit up. Paul had just officially started in the Master's program at BYU, a.k.a., the hardest semester of his life. It was a happy time of life, and it was exciting watching Benjamin cross each milestone.

Paul went to work, and Sarah took care of Benjamin who has a cold and slight ear infection. He hasn't been sleeping well at all the past few nights; he's had a blazing fever and a few isolated vomiting episodes in the middle of the night. The house became miraculously clean for Sarah's Visiting Teachers yesterday morning. We had a chicken broccoli casserole for dinner, and afterward Paul went to work in the backyard leveling the dirt to prepare for planting grass. Once Benjamin was asleep, we had a bowl of ice cream and watched some HGTV.

Five Snacks I Enjoy:
Sarah: 1. Kirkland Vanilla Ice Cream, 2. Any in-season fruit-especially strawberries and peaches, 3. Our Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, 4. Our Homemade Oreo Cookies, 5. Homemade Caramel Corn.
Paul: Stork Chocolate Reisens, 2. Hot Tamales, 3. Carrot Sticks, 4. Any of our homemade cookies, 5. Pumpkin Bread.

Five Things I Would Do With 1 Million Dollars:
Sarah: 1. Invest most if not all of it, 2. Buy a Honda Odyssey, 3. Get nice furniture and make-over our home, 4. Start a bank account for Benjamin's college fund, 5. Travel the world.
Paul: 1. Live off the interest, 2. Sod, instead of Seed our lawn, 3. Buy all the tools I want to do all of our home improvement projects, and that's all.

Five TV Shows I Like:
Sarah: Lets see...five shows I new favorite is "Find Your Style" on HGTV, but I've also been known to be a succor for "So You Think You Can Dance" and "American Idol."
Paul: 1. "Psych"...

Five Things I Hate Doing:
Sarah: 1. Driving with talk-radio on, 2. Waking up multiple times a night with Benjamin, 3. Dishes that never seem to end...but we have a dishwasher now, so this isn't really relevant anymore!
Paul: 1. Dishes, 2. Washing Lettuce, 3. Chain emails/forwards....that's it.

Five Biggest Joys Of The Moment:
Sarah: 1. Benjamin's adorable fits of giggles when we do something ridiculous, 2. Paul coming through the door after a long day (or any day!), 3. Going to a pumpkin patch on a brisk fall day, 4. Making some part of our home or yard more attractive or livable, 5. Benjamin's hugs and kisses.
Paul: 1. When Sarah talks in her silly voices (it's true... she has silly voices), 2. when Benjamin was very young we gave him a car to play with and he began making loud, rumbling noises with his mouth, 3. how excited Benjamin gets when it's time for me to read one of his favorite bedtime stories, 4. when Benjamin lights up when I come home (which isn't everyday unfortunately,) and 5. any work in the yard anytime.

Five People I Tag:
Um...whoever is reading this and has an hour to kill and/or someone who needs to update their blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ben in the Backyard

We've been here about a month now and are loving this yard! It's little and brambly and needs a lot of work, but we're really enjoying it. Benjamin helps out a lot. Here he's helping Mom sweep the deck. He especially loves all the big, heavy, dangerous garden tools and loves to follow Daddy around with them.

Paul really enjoys what he's doing at work. We're all still getting used to the normal office hours instead his old flexible thesis hours on campus.

The area is really beautiful. It was really hot and muggy when we got here, but then one day, it was like someone hit a light switch and it was really chilly. It's back to hot now. Benjamin loves to play outside and we were lucky enough to find a steal on Craig's List for a kid basketball hoop, a little race car, a table sand box with sand toys and a few Tonka backhoe loaders all for $25! So now we practically have a playground back there. Well, nothing to compare to the swanky, huge, modern playground down the road, but it's something!

We miss all our family and friends! But we're doing well. It's kind of fun being just us.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Leaving Utah!

So after almost 3 years together here in Provo, we're finally moving on! Paul accepted a job with Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri, and we're both really excited about it. Benjamin has no idea what he's in for, but he may just have suspected something when we dismantled his crib in front of him and showed him our totally vacant apartment after the movers had gotten everything out. He really liked the moving truck, and especially walking up and down the ramp about 100 times. It was pretty funny to see our stuff in the enormous truck, filling up MAYBE a quarter of it.
So this is our house! With a fenced-in yard, and a garage and a washer and dryer and dishwasher and air-conditioning and everything! It's about 50 years old, so we've got a few fixer-upper projects ahead of us, but it's an adorable house. We're excited to be living on our own, but will miss all of our good friends and family. There's an open guest room for anyone going on a church-history trip, driving across the country, or perhaps even coming just to visit us.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Benjamin! He's 1 year old already! Can you believe it?!?

Benjamin's birthday cake, made to look like his favorite stuffed animal, "Dodger Bear." Here, we were about to sing "Happy Birthday" to him. He was bawling though by the time everyone cheered. He just doesn't like being the center of attention.

He loved digging his hands in his birthday cake. Benjamin was a huge mess by the end and had to take a dip in the sink to clean off.

Benjamin got a new stuffed animal--a seagull! He loves his animals! They all live in his crib and are his nap-time buddies.

Here's Benjamin with his favorite new toy. He plays it with great exuberance and vigor.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hooray for Summer!

If you can't tell by the picture, Benjamin LOVES the pool. It's nice that we have free passes to go swimming any time we want too!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Zoo

We went to the zoo a few weeks ago. Benjamin was fascinated this time by all the animals, and wanted to climb over the cages and fences to touch them. After our trip, he's also taken a greater interest in his animal books, which he has me read to him repeatedly every day.

Here he's looking at a snow leopard, trying to wake it up. But it never even twitched.

Benjamin's favorite animal was the Meerkat. They were giving him high-fives!

It was a beautiful day, and all the animals were out, including the girraffes who posed nicely for the camera.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

California Trip: 10 Months Old!

We had a wonderful trip to California for our "Spring Break" and met up with Mom, Dad, Michelle and David at Bryan and Jenilee's place. Benjamin was a champ in the car, especially considering the trip home ended up taking a lot longer due to LA traffic. He and Sarah got along splendidly, and by the end of the week were comfortable enough to steal eachother's toys. Unfortunately, we were not welcomed by balmy California weather that week, but it was still beautiful and green.

The crazy guys taking a dip in the freezing Pacific Ocean.

The rest of the gang was cold enough, even without getting in the water!

Benjamin enjoyed walking in the sand, and especially following the seagulls and pigeons.

During this trip, we had the opportunity to go to the LA Temple. We had a wonderful experience there, and Jeannine, Michelle and David were nice enough to watch the babies during those couple of hours. Benjamin wasn't too happy with us for abandoning him, hence his forlorn look in this picture.

Benjamin loved the hike in his backpack carrier. It was a beautiful trail!

We got to go to Disneyland on the trip, where Benjamin met Pluto and rode a bunch of rides. Paul was an excellent guide to the park, as the rest of us had never been there before.