Sunday, December 23, 2012


 There's a section of the Magic House that looks like a maternity ward with different stations to take care of all the newborns. We've often breezed through it, but this time, it seemed to really speak to Peter. He was really getting into being a doctor, washing, dressing, measuring, feeding and naming them. It was cute.
 Nora liked it too of course. I suppose babies probably run a close second to princesses among Nora's preferences.
 I don't think I've mentioned this here yet, but out of the short list of names we've come up with for our new baby, Nora's latched on to one in particular. It wasn't even the strongest contender, just a classic name that we've both always liked, and that happens to be my middle name. It came sort of out of the blue one day when I asked her what the new baby's name should be, and she said very clearly for a two-year-old, "Elizabeth." And she's stuck to her guns ever since.
The boys picked out "Lydia" much earlier, and are still strongly in that camp. So we'll see. We've got a bit of time to figure it all out. My guess is somebody ends up disappointed. :)
I am inclined to believe Nora. I remember when I was expecting Peter, "Peter" was the name Benjamin (at about Nora's age) had really pushed for. Again, it was a fine name, just not our favorite at the time.  When we finally did meet him, it was clear to us that "Peter" was his name. I think these tiny people just know sometimes.

Santa's Lap

I took the two youngest this week to the Magic House to see Santa. It was a mad house, as I predicted, but Peter made sure to let him know about the Lego set he had in mind, and Nora told him about the princess castle. I love that in a manner of speaking, they'll both get their wishes. I'm sure excited for Christmas morning to come!!!
It's a good thing I didn't bring Benjamin along. The magic of Santa is still alive for him, but he did note when he saw this picture that this wasn't the real guy. Obviously. His jeans are showing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eight Things I Love About You

In honor of our eighth anniversary, I thought I'd share eight things that I love about my sweetheart, Paul.

1. You're my best friend. There's no one I'd rather be with or talk to. I remember as a teen, wondering how you could possibly just click with someone and never run out of things to talk about. I thought surely you'd get bored eventually. As funny of a thought as that is now, it's something I don't take for granted. I love being with you, and sharing everything that's on my mind with you.

2. You make me want to be a better person. Your generosity, your love of learning, your empathy, and your deep commitment to the gospel all continue to inspire me. I always heard growing up that the person you marry should make you want to be a better person, and that was certainly true while we were dating. I'm just grateful that you're still that person, and that I still find many qualities in you that make me want to stretch myself a little farther.

3. You are adventurous. One of the first things that really attracted me to you (besides the obvious- I thought you were cute), was your interest in living abroad and somehow doing good in the world. Our life in the Midwest has become somewhat monotonous and predictable over the past five years with a mortgage and 3 1/2 kids, but your hunger for adventure keeps life exciting. I loved last year's anniversary, when we explored the City Museum in all its crazy weirdness and just giggled like little kids.

4. You are stable and grounded. I love that even though you often crave adventure, you've always followed the Spirit and learned how to be content. I happen to know how much you like to dream about new job ventures, or new places to live, or even just about "what's next." I know how much you loved life as a bachelor, and the ability to just live in a van if you wanted to. Which is why I'm especially grateful for the sacrifices you've made to put your family first, especially when you really could do anything you set your mind to.

5. You're a wonderful provider. I am so grateful that you've followed the Spirit your entire life and chosen a career that has been such a blessing to our family.  I have always wanted to be a mother and to be home with my children. You've supported that dream and the many others that I've had. I happen to know how much you are valued at work, and couldn't be more proud. I'm grateful for your ability to lead and to relate to all different kinds of people. I'm grateful for your integrity and passion for what you do.

6. You are creative. A lot of people naturally assume that I'm the artist and you're the math brain, but I know better. While I do have a need to create, my ideas generally aren't fresh or original like yours. You're a very gifted writer, a musician, and poet. Even your skills with statistics become a medium for your art as you create better ways of thinking through complex problems.  I'm constantly amazed at your innovative thinking.

7. You make me feel beautiful, which is no small thing. With a prominent birthmark, acne scars, stretch marks and now varicose veins (thanks, Mom! haha), I've always felt somewhat self-conscious about the way I look. I don't know how, but you seem to be able to look past all that and make me feel like a beautiful woman. It certainly gives me hope for old age when I'm sure to go even farther downhill. :)

8.  You're a wonderful father. I can't imagine a better dad for our kids. They all look up to you, and have every reason to. They love playing with you and learning from you and being loved by you in ways I cannot. They see your example as you help me out around the house or serve people outside our home, and I know it makes a huge impression on them. They watch you go to work every day and spend lots of time serving in your church calling, but I know they still feel your great love for them.

Needless to say, I don't feel like I deserve such an incredible guy. I am eternally grateful that eight years ago today I said yes, and even more grateful that he did too. With Paul by my side, I really feel like I can say the best is yet to come! Happy anniversary!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sewing Projects

I finished a few sewing projects this weekend! One was a little dress that is quickly becoming too small for Nora. It was supposed to be a spring/summer dress for her, but now it just looks 70's retro with a turtleneck and leggings. I didn't use a pattern, so it certainly isn't perfect. But I learned a few things along the way. Nora loves stuffing the pockets with snacks or other random objects.
I found this tutorial a while ago on Pinterest, but finally decided to just get over my fear of patterns and try my hand at making little boy ties. I had a ton of fine ribbed red corduroy just sitting in my fabric stash, and decided it would make perfect little Christmas ties. Peter was especially excited for me to finish them so he could wear it. He even tried to wear his to preschool on his last day because he wanted to wear something Christmas-y.
 Now that I've made two, I'm excited to make more in different colors. They were actually pretty easy.
I just wish I'd finished them a few days earlier so that they could have made it into our Christmas cards. Aren't they cute in them?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

 I guess with all that has been going on this season, blogging has fallen by the wayside. I love this time of year though. We hadn't been home two full days from our Thanksgiving trip when I started pulling out the Christmas decorations and getting things ready. It was fun to see the stockings I made last year again and laugh to myself that we haven't disposed of our tiny fake tree yet....I guess it isn't that bad, but I much prefer real.
This is my favorite nativity we have. It's a tiny clay one from Mexico that Paul and I picked up on our honeymoon. 
The kids have been really into Christmas music this year, so we play a children's Christmas station on Pandora. They especially love to dance around together.
I'm especially excited this year about a certain surprise that is happening on Christmas morning.  The kids have no idea, but Santa -- in lieu of presents this year -- is sending us on a plane to a place that starts with D and ends in isneyland. They'll have new suitcases packed and ready to go so we can just leave. I'm really hoping it goes over well...I have been in a purging mood lately, and had little motivation to get them any more toys than they already have. We've also been focusing a lot on giving this year, so in addition to drawing each others' names, we decided to sponsor a local family with two boys about the same ages as ours. I think it will be good.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Balmy December

 It has been beyond gorgeous here for the past few days. We took advantage of the weather and did our (fingers crossed) last giant leaf overhaul on Saturday, which I think I can safely say since the trees immediately surrounding us have made their final deposits. Usually, we have at least one giant tree in the neighbor's yard that hangs on until at least January.
Since Saturday was spent in the yard, I thought it would be fun to take the kids to the zoo this morning. Because really, how often is it 75 degrees in December? As soon as I brought up the idea, Peter went into hysterics, screaming about how much he hates the zoo, and how he'd much prefer to stay home all day and play with his toys. Nora, who loves to go anywhere, was excited to get ready and get going. It's something that I've only noticed just recently, but in that respect, Peter and Nora couldn't be more different. Peter has always resisted story time at the library, or getting together with friends (he's recently been warming up to this, although it's best if it's only one friend), or basically doing anything away from the house. Nora on the other hand will ask routinely where we're going that day, and is the first to the car. She loves being with other kids, and will happily attend and even participate in story times. I think the Virginia trip was easy largely because Nora loves being on a trip.
Well, today Nora won. We went to the zoo, and I think even Peter enjoyed it in spite of his earlier episode. We had fun brushing the goats....
 ...and watching the bears curl up for a mid-morning nap...
....and getting up close to the penguins.

The recently added Sea Lion tunnel was also a hit. It's fun to watch them swim right over your head and then do flips in front of you.
The zoo train is something that I've hardly ever done with my kids because it isn't free. I finally decided today to get the cheapest family membership so we could take advantage of things like the train and the sea lion show.  I'm already glad I did.
Peter and Nora had fun riding, and would wave whenever they saw someone walking by. They were giving each other "noozles" here, which is just rubbing noses.
We went through a few long dark tunnels, so they held hands for most of the ride to "stay safe." It was really sweet.
It's sometimes a little frustrating, but mostly really fun having kids who are so different.  I like to imagine that they'll become really good friends through school, looking out for each other using their individual strengths. A mom can dream, right?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thanksgiving Trip

For the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to take a couple days off and make a week of it. We drove about 14 hours east and landed at my brother and sister-in-law's house on the Maryland peninsula.
The cousins took no time at all getting reacquainted. Nora and Isaac were sweet little friends.
Isaac looks a lot like his Dad, I think!
So fun to watch these two!
The older kids played together non-stop too, building with blocks, chasing, screaming.
Family time around the piano turned into a dance party. Our kids are all approximately the same ages, which makes it really fun. My sister-in-law had her baby just a few weeks before our arrival, and we all loved getting to know the newest member of the family. I'm kicking myself that I didn't get any pictures of her!
Next, we stopped through Richmond, where Paul's brother Mike and his wife live. We enjoyed getting to know Kat a little better, especially since we hadn't really met her besides at their wedding last year. It was fun to see their home, and eat at one of their favorite places for dinner. Also fun- Kat and I are both pregnant, due about a week apart (we have four babies due within a four month span with Alexandra and Abby). After a night in a Richmond hotel, we headed up to the DC area, where Paul's sister and other brother Brigham lives. There, we met up with Grandma and Grandpa, who flew out to be with us.
The kids loved staying in the hotel in Tyson's Corner and peeking out the window as the sun rose each morning.
The first day, we went to the Capitol Building to get a personal tour.
I love the DC area, probably because I grew up there. I don't miss the traffic and crazy parking, though!
Aunt Katie was our ticket through all the best parts of the Capitol Building.
 She gave a great tour for six squirmy little kids, all under age seven!
I bet you didn't know that several of the Disney princesses are painted inside the dome of the capitol. Nora excitedly pointed them all out for us. :)
 The cousins had an instant bond. It was mad chaos all the time with these four.
 Our families with the statue of Brigham Young.
Katie had all sorts of fascinating stories about the history of the capitol. We had to hurry down this staircase, since it has to remain clear in case the President or other government official ever needs to use it.
The train ride to Katie's office was definitely a highlight!
Nora and Grandpa really hit it off. She had him wrapped around her little finger.

On Thanksgiving morning, most of the gang went for a little hike while last minute preparations were being made in the kitchen.

It was a delicious feast! And in case I forget, brining a turkey for at least a full day before cooking it is the way to go. Way to master the turkey on your first try, Alexandra!

We couldn't leave without going to the Air and Space Museum. The boys loved it.
Once kids were settled down for the night in our room next door, it was nice to unwind and play Rook together at the hotel. Mike and Kat joined us there for the last night.
The next morning, we headed home. It was a long day, but I was blown away at how well the kids did. We have a lot to be thankful for, and most especially for wonderful, supportive families who we can see so often!
(p.s. This is Sarah, not Paul. I'm going to have to start using his account to post unless I start paying with mine. It says I've reached my Picasa photo limit! I didn't even know that was possible...anyone else ever run into this issue?)