Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beautiful Pictures

I just got Lydia's newborn pictures back, and they are perfect. I'm a little sad that I never did this with any of the other kids, but I'm so glad that didn't stop me from getting Lydia's done. She's changed so much already, and yet she's still Lydia. So here's the best of the best. Happy two months, Lydia! 

 Sadly, there was no good shot of Peter. He was upside-down about 90% of the time. I desperately wanted a great frame-worthy shot of all the kids (you know, like the ones where the kids are all cutely posed, stacked up lying down?), but this is what it looked like for the most part. Oh, well. I guess it's good that we got some beautiful pictures documenting our beautiful chaos.
And I can't forget to thank our awesome photographer, who you should definitely check out if you're in the area!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Photo Dump

Peter finished up preschool last week. It was a sad, sad time, especially for me. I have sent Benjamin and Peter to this wonderful (charitably subsidized) Montessori preschool for years, and it is finally closing its doors. Mrs. Brown has been great, and Peter has grown so much during these past two years with her. He is a really bright boy, and enjoyed working hard at math (the chains- he liked counting and recording 1 cubed, 2 cubed and got all the way to 8 cubed-512!), "Explode the Code," (he was really motivated, and finished book two this year) and reading. He'll be going to a "regular" preschool next year, which I guess will be good. I think socially, he could use it.
Here's Mrs. Bailey- the founder of the school. I wonder what she'll do with her house now that a good chunk of it isn't permanently a classroom? She is a saint.
Benjamin brought this diorama home that he made with his classmates at school. It's the Titanic hitting the iceberg. They must have had a long unit on this particular moment in history, because he's been interested in it for a while. 
He continues to be a great big brother. He's gotten more confident with Lydia- picking her up when she's crying and even changing wet diapers!
This past Saturday was gorgeous (it won't be long before the heat and humidity are way too stifling for such outings!), so we took advantage and went to the zoo.
Two cute boys.
We had fun riding the zoo train...

Lydia is totally, unmistakeably a redhead now. I still can't believe we have FOUR redheads. I mean seriously, what are the odds?! Also, I have four blue-eyed children, which is equally as mystifying to me, considering mine are brown.
Sweet sisters. I can't wait for these two to get a little bigger so they can be good little buddies.

That Elusive Smile

There's just something so rewarding about finally capturing that melt-your-heart tiny baby smile. Lydia really is a happy, sweet baby.

Love this girl.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


This Mother's Day, I was given a short speaking assignment in church for a special program for the women of the congregation. We were given a topic relating to our heritage- the Mormon Pioneers, who were forced to leave their homes and all of their earthly possessions because of persecution.  Many traveled by handcart with limited available space- roughly 17 pounds per person. Naturally, this made them evaluate what was most important to them, and what they could realistically bring.

I thought I'd record what I shared, if for no other reason than to keep for posterity.

As I started thinking about what I might bring in my handcart, my mind began going in several different directions.
Physically speaking, I think I could do with very little- especially given today's technology. I could pack a few pans, some compact sleeping bags, some water purification would be rough, but if I had to, I don't think I'd have much trouble leaving everything behind. Oh, I'd miss my bed, plumbing, AC and a host of other modern-day conveniences, but I really feel like I could do it.
I am not a pack rat. I live in a fairly small home with four children under the age of seven. Maybe I'll get sentimental when I'm older, but I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff. I have often joked to Paul that the reason I never lock our doors is because even if a robber broke in, there is nothing we own that I would feel devastated losing. And the stuff I do care about- family histories, photos and journals- are all things I'm sure no one would think to touch.
What I would be devastated losing is my family. How grateful I am to be sealed to them in the temple! Because of the covenants Paul and I have made, we can be together forever, no matter what happens to us in this life. One section in last month's visiting teaching message that really jumped out at me was this: "The strength, power and blessings of the temple covenants [sustained] the Latter-day Saints during their journey [west], when they [suffered] cold, heat, hunger, poverty, sickness, accidents and death." Just that short time with the temple in their midst was crucially important for their journey forward. Those temple covenants that they made sustained them in a very literal way. It was not a "leap in the dark" for them.
When I think about real sacrifices I make in my life, I keep coming back to the word "time." My handcart could easily be pared down to the basics if I had to physically move my family to Zion, but I don't think I've reached that point yet with my time. What is my time filled with? As anyone with small children- or who has had small children- knows, it is spent nursing, changing diapers, doing laundry, cleaning spills, reading books, putting toys away a hundred times over, cooking meals, getting kids to and from school, doing dishes, and the list goes on and on.
If I could identify with anyone from the scriptures, sadly, it would be Martha. I have been a mother now for almost seven years, and still struggle making the time each day to sit at the Savior's feet and really hear his word. If that were easy, then it wouldn't be a sacrifice.  But I know that when I do make that sacrifice, and make sure my time with the Savior is in my handcart first, then I am blessed. I am more gentle and patient with my children. I am more in tune with the Spirit and aware of others' needs. My home, though perhaps still messy, has the Holy Ghost in it. I am even physically strengthened beyond my normal abilities.
I know all these things as surely as I now anything, and yet I still struggle. I can so identify with Nephi's psalm as he laments his own repeated failures, "O then if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?" (2 Nephi 4:26)
If anything, I make my life  harder by not putting the Savior in my handcart first. I know the things I need to do. I need personal daily feasting in the scriptures, I need to more frequently communicate with my Heavenly Father through prayer, I need to be in the temple as often as I can. I need to renew my strength if I want to make it to Zion, and I need my children to see that I need it. Telling them that I believe is not enough. They need to see me pack my handcart each morning before going on our journey, and see those things that matter most. Most things I wouldn't mind losing, but I cannot lose my family, and I do have some power over whether or not that happens.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women in my life! I feel lucky to have so many great examples to look up to.

Monday, May 06, 2013


Lydia is almost six weeks old. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies after you're done being pregnant!
 I tried to catch one of her smiles this morning, but this was the best I could get.
 Double chins...
 ...cheeks spilling over. I think this girl is off to a healthy start.

Speaking of health, I had to find myself a family doctor a few weeks ago (first time since sometime before I was married) to check my ears. Three weeks ago, my left ear went almost completely deaf, but it is finally, finally back to normal again. Turns out that crazy post-pregnancy hormones can do all sorts of funny things- like cause an overproduction of earwax. Who knew? Anyways, I am grateful to be able to hear again. One of those simple things I tend to take for granted!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Little Catch-Up

 It's been a while since I've regularly posted about anything, but we've been having lots of fun.
 The boys enjoyed 'take your kids to work day' with Paul. I guess Monsanto likes brainwashing 'em early. ;)
They're convinced Dad has the best job in the world.  Who wouldn't want to work where you have breakfast, Mad Scientist shows and free goodie bags! They were especially excited about getting a set of bamboo flatware each, making their own bouncy balls, and getting balloon weapons (light saber and blaster.) 
 The Mall near our house just got a Lego store, so we went to check it out. It was a lot of fun! The wall of colored individual bricks was one of the best parts, in my opinion.
On a particularly gorgeous spring afternoon, I made strawberry and Nutella paninis for Peter and Nora because, why not? I'm sure they didn't appreciate them as much as I did. I'm loving the fact that I don't have gestational diabetes anymore!
With all the rain that we've been having, at least five of Benjamin's baseball games have been cancelled. We all went as a family this week to one of his games. Peter and Nora spent the evening getting filthy...
 ...but having a marvelous time doing it.
 Benjamin made some great plays for his team, especially while covering first base. They are actually getting to be good little players, which makes it fun to watch.
Nora is the opposite of a home body, and has been itching to get out of the house ever since Lydia was born (and since Peter never wants to leave the house, we haven't done much of anything lately). The girls and I made it to the Science Center one day this week while Peter was at preschool.
 Nora wouldn't get any closer to this animatronic dinosaur, and this was the best "smile" she could muster.
 The discovery room is the best. Nora loved racing the cars down the ramp.
Benjamin had a "crazy hair day" at school this week, but was initially hesitant to participate. I convinced him it would be fun, and styled this mohawk.
He looks so grown up to me here. The hawk adds at least an inch on him. :) 
We've taken a break from gardening the past few years, but decided to try it again this spring. We picked a spot right on the deck where it will get the most sun and let the kids pick out their own seeds. Paul's pretty proud of this planter he built this afternoon.

One Month

One month stats for Lydia: 
Weight  -  10 lbs. 15 oz. (86%), Height  -  21 3/4" (70%), Head  -  15 1/4" (94%). 
She's growing up fast!
Seriously, was this her just a few short weeks ago?!