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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This afternoon when I dropped Ben off at school, his teacher mentioned that we were approaching Ben's year mark of being in his class, which meant that we'd be having a meeting soon to evaluate Ben's progress and goals. As a bit of side note, Mr. Brad commented, "you know, I'm going to do whatever I can to keep him in my class, but there's a chance that he may not even qualify anymore."

Two years ago I had Ben evaluated by an Early Start teacher who, at that time, almost diagnosed Ben as autistic, based on her first observations of him. After a couple of months she was confident that that wasn't the correct diagnosis, but there were still enough delays that we signed him up for her class and started working with her on getting him to talk and improve in other areas where he was delayed.

As soon as Ben turned 3, he "graduated" from that program and then made a very smooth transition to a different preschool with a teacher who specializes in Speech. I had assumed Ben would be in this class right up until he was ready to start kindergarten. The fact that he may not qualify to be in this particular class anymore came as a bit of a surprise. A great one! Don't get me wrong. It means that he's caught up to where he "should" be (whatever that means, right?) and there aren't any serious delays that need to be addressed.

Ben loves his teacher and the assistant. He has so much fun and it has been such a great place for him. He really has grown and matured so much socially. Ben has found his voice, in more ways than one, and has such a clever-thinking mind. I would love to have him home with me, but I think it'd be so confusing to him to all of a sudden not being going to school anymore. I know we'd find our own special things to do, just like I've been trying to do with the time I have with Hugh while Ben's at school. I just wasn't expecting to hear that today.

And, it kind of got me thinking about why that came as such a shock. So often I doubt myself and my abilities, especially when it comes to things related to parenting. I never feel like I'm measuring up... to what exactly? I have no idea! It's so absurd. But, still there sort of this constant feeling that I'm just not quite on par and may never be.

Where do those thoughts come from? I've always blamed the inner voice in my head. But, what if it isn't our inner voice? What if at some point down the road we find that voice to be from some much darker more sinister source that really preys on our weaknesses and seeks to make us miserable?

I don't think my inner voice is nearly so harsh or unforgiving. On any given day and in any given moment, we are bombarded with so many different emotions and experiences. The thoughts and feelings that come to us from different directions can all be so subtle. Unless it's some big moment, I don't really stop and consider where each thought and feeling comes from.

Starting today, I'm going to be more discerning to the different thoughts and feelings that come to me, because I have this sneaking suspicion that my true inner voice is much more like the still, small voice that whispers encouraging words that build and inspire. It could be that the negative really are coming from somewhere deep inside of me, but even if that is the true source, listening to it still isn't going to be helpful in any way.

I'm not anywhere near the mother I want to be or wish I were, but I am trying so hard... and I can look back and see how much I'm learning and how much I'm getting better at some things. And, even though I'm not perfect all of the time (who is, though?!), I do have some good moments and have figured out how to do some things right.

My biggest fear is totally botching this whole thing and ruining my kids for the rest of their lives. But, then I have moments - like today in my conversation with Ben's teacher - where I look back and see how far we've come together and how much we've been blessed in the process. And, I think we're all doing so much better than we realize. And, whatever negative voices are trying to convince us otherwise are just not worth listening to.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The First Rain

It rained all night long last night. The first of the season. I love falling asleep to the sound of raindrops gently falling outside. It's soothing and peaceful. It seemed to work its magic on the kids because they all slept remarkably well.

Marc had to be up super early to go to an out of town meeting with a client, and I half expected that either his movements would wake everyone else up or that I wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep. Fortunately neither happened and the three kids and I all slept in an hour later than usual.

We snuggled up on the couch under a blanket to try to get warmed up before heading to the kitchen for breakfast. I offered to make their favorite whole wheat pancakes, but they insisted that it was a cereal day. I didn't protest since cereal is slightly less work.

With Marc gone with the car and with the raining pouring down outside, our morning started off comfortably slow. I didn't mind the pace one bit. The kids were busy ransacking the entire house - well, actually just their bedroom and our front room - while I was busy catching up on some emails and other to-dos that I'd been neglecting.

It was when Hugh came running out of his bedroom with a plastic bag over his head, laughing at his robot impersonation, that I realized my neglect had gone on long enough. First, I firmly explained the danger of plastic over the head and then I hurried and tidied up just enough to make the house less of a booby trap. Then, came the fun!

The boys had piled the couch pillows all together and then placed their lawn chairs around it in a circle. They explained they were going camping, so I suggested we should roast some marshmallows. It was clear they thought I was just joining in on their game of make believe, but I thought it'd be more fun to make it a little more real. I grabbed three kebab skewers and a bag of leftover Halloween marshmallows. The boys squealed with excitement and Lucy did her nervous, bouncy dance that she does when she wants whatever is about to come more that she knows how to express any other way.

They put the marshmallows on their skewers and "roasted" away. They had so much fun that they asked over and over again the rest of the day if they could roast some more marshmallows.

I was able to distract them by asking if they wanted roasted hot dogs for lunch. I happened to have some in the fridge, as well as one of those cans of Pillsbury roll dough (which I never have). We wrapped up some mummy dogs and threw them in the oven. While they watched them cook through the oven door, I made a batch of pumpkin bread to maximize the energy used to heat up the oven. Is it weird that I do that?

It was perfect timing that as everyone was finishing up their lunch, the mini pumpkin muffins were just coming out of the oven. Except that Hugh declared he didn't like them and Ben thought they were too hot.

I cleaned up the dishes quick, then I got Lucy down for a nap while the boys watched "The Brave Little Toaster" or whatever it's called exactly. I dozed off, snuggled between my boys and with Einstein curled up on top of me. With my favorite snuggle buddies and the rain's gentle lure, I could not fight the invite to give in. It was the perfect pause for the middle of a rainy day, stuck indoors.

As soon as naps were done, the chaos got more chaotic. The yelling, the crying, the fighting, the complaining... I was relieved it was time to go running. My parents come over every afternoon to play and hang out and when my neighbor mentioned wanting to run in the afternoons I realized during the winter that would be totally ideal, since I'm not a big fan of running in the cold or the dark.

I normally wouldn't be too thrilled about running in the rain, but today it was exactly what I needed to finish off the second half of the day. I let the rain wash away all of my worries. I let the cool breeze blow energy into my soul. I let my body move and release built up stress and tension. I let my mind wander and think. I let the moment seep deep into my heart, feeling so grateful for the craziness of my life and for the tiny break I get every afternoon to refill my bucket, hoping to have just enough to fill all my little buckets before sending them off to bed for another night, followed by another day of rain.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Getting Fit

I have a friend who recently ran her first race ever, at the age of 37. She does not consider herself a runner, which I whole-heartedly disagree with. In my opinion, if you run, regardless of distance or pace, you are a runner. Go ahead, call yourself a runner. It feels good! I learned that she just started running a year ago and on that first day of running she was only able to run to the end of her street. But, she stuck with it and went back out there, day after day. One year later, and more than 70 pounds lighter, she completed her first race. She is so inspiring!

Hearing her story reminded me of where I started almost a year ago and made me reflect on what has worked and what hasn't, for ME. I started running on January 28, after giving myself almost 7 months to recover and adjust after Lucy's birth. That first time running, I did less than three miles and paced at somewhere around 14 minute miles. It felt awkward and uncomfortable to run, almost like I was running with two left feet. Since January, I've run two half marathons and have logged almost 600 miles in my training. I've been able to increase my pace to 8 minute miles on my shorter runs, and even though I wasn't focusing on losing weight, I've actually lost 20 pounds and I feel strong and healthy.

Here are a few things that have worked for me:

1) Set small, easily-attainable goals. And, then, constantly adjust them and make them more challenging. For example, I started off running (or walking) 3-4 days a week for 20-30 minutes, without any pressure of how far or how fast. I just had to get out the door and do something. Now, I try to get out 4-5 days a week and try to constantly increase my speed or my distance or both.

2) Set bigger, long-term goals. In other words, signing up for a race (or two) that would keep me motivated to keep pushing and keep reaching. I've found, though, that you can do this without signing up for races. Just pick a certain pace or distance that you want to get to by a certain date a few months out and then work toward it.

3) Find a workout buddy. I've run and trained for races all by myself and I've trained with people. It makes such a huge difference to have someone to exercise with. Talk to people you'd want workout with, ask around. You might be surprised to find someone else looking for someone just like you to join them in working out. It helps to have someone else working toward the same goals and someone that's depending on you to be consistent. I've been so lucky to have had lots of running buddies, sometimes even going on multiple runs on the same day.

4) Appreciate all the benefits. I don't put too much emphasis on whatever physical benefits that come from exercising, because I get so much more from my workouts that go way beyond the physical. There are mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits that come from being active and having a little time to myself to fill my bucket. I feel like running actually helps me be a better mom. Any physical benefits are just extra.

5) Listen to your body. When it aches, let it rest. When muscles are tight, stretch them out. When something is hurt, find things that will fix it. When it's hungry, feed it. When it's thirsty, drink lots of water. I've found that when I'm exercising, I naturally crave more healthy foods and drink a lot more - another side benefit to running. I try to listen to my body and be extra kind and gentle with myself.

6) Reward yourself. One of the best parts of being active is the feeling that I can eat anything without feeling bad about it. I'm not shy about rewarding myself... I just don't go overboard. I feel totally okay with splurging (even daily) on a small scoop of ice cream or a cookie or a handful of M&Ms, but I'm super careful not to put all three of those in the same bowl at the same time. (I'd at least spread them out throughout the day! haha!)

7) Don't get discouraged! Most results are going to happen so slowly you might not even notice them if you aren't paying close attention. Those slow changes are healthier for the body and are much more likely to last. If I take the 20 pounds I've lost since January, then it figures out to losing less than a tenth of a pound every day. Another way of putting it, I've lost one pound every two weeks. That's insanely slow, especially compared to results that some pills or diets will promise, but it's natural and it's healthy.

Just like everyone else out there, I have things about my body that are softer or rounder or curvier than what I sometimes want, but I really do love my body and love having this exact body of mine. I love moving, I love feeling alive, I love working my lungs and feeling my muscles burn. I also love food and I love feeling like I can enjoy the flavors and tastes even more when I'm doing what I can to be active. That is the best part!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I love Lucy!

Lucy is just over a year now, but my golly this little girl of ours is going to keep us on our toes. She just turned 16 months on Sunday. I took her in for her doctor appointment this morning. She refused to sit down on one of those baby scales for her weigh-in, so she stood there (naked) making all the nurses in sight laugh out loud. She weighs 26 pounds 2 ounces, and is now 32.5 inches tall, continuing her trend of being in the 90-something-th percentile in both. Within minutes, the doctor who was seeing her for first time, pegged her as the ham that she is, as she was running around the tiny office, doing her funny dance and laughing! I love her colorful personality!

She is a climber - her favorite place is the kitchen table, which she ends up on at least a dozen times a day, standing and smirking the entire time. Tonight she shook her head when we told her she needed to get down.

She is an eater - often eating as much as the boys and has already pretty much perfected the use of utensils.

She is a hider. She'll disappear and I'll look around for her and not find her anywhere. Call her name. No response. I've found her in our closet, behind the curtains, in the bathroom with the door closed, and on Sunday she actually went into my bedroom and locked the door behind her. How is that even possible?? Good thing the boys had already tested out locking themselves out of their bedroom because I knew exactly how to get the door opened to save my sly and silly girl. No panic at all, except trying to figure out how she learns how to do stuff like this.

She is a reader. She'll come snuggle up next to you with a book and pushes it at you until you push aside any and all distractions and read to her.

She's learning to talk. "Mom" is for Mom (of course!), but it's also for Dad, more, milk, and pretty much anything that she wants and gets excited about. Ball is another one that is for ball and pretty much any other toy. She meows, woofs, oinks, and growls. She says cracker, but it comes out in a bit of a growl. She says "down" for down, but also for up... funny girl! She can sign "more" and "please". And, water... that one is the best. Do you know what she says for water? She does the swallowing sound in her throat! Brilliant!!

She is an equal with her brothers. The boys were playing in their closet today with their flashlights and Lucy was sitting in there with them with a book in hand, just chilling with the boys. They don't get away with anything. They take a toy or food or something she has and she goes for blood. Luckily she hasn't drawn blood yet, but tears and pleas for mercy, YES! I'm always amazed at how scared they can be of her.

Lucy is as sweet and cuddly as you'd expect from a little girl, but she is feisty and strong-willed like you wouldn't imagine. She is so much fun! We were dancing around to songs from the Nutcracker this morning and she runs in circles, shooting her arms straight up into the air about every five seconds while still in motion. It's super cute, even if it is a little Richard Simmons-ish. But, stuff like that, where did she learn that from? I think there is so much innate about the personalities we're born with and the inner songs that move our lives. I love, love, love learning more about those innate attributes of my three little ones!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Full day of (birthday) Fun

Late last night I was up making these treats for Ben to take to school for snack time. I thought about taking some over to my parents' house for them to have a snack on their weekly drive down to the temple, but it was late and I was too tired. As I was laying in bed I had this idea that if Lucy happened to wake up at 3:30am for her feeding, then I'd take her and we'd go to my parents' together, knowing they usually leave around 3:45. Ideas like that usually pop up when I'm feeling guilty about letting my laziness stop me from doing something.

Well, guess what time Lucy woke up. 3:33am. I laughed to myself, then hurried into my shoes, grabbed my phone and keys and a baggie of granola bites ready to go, picked up Lucy out of her crib and headed out into the dark, cold night. She was clearly confused as I was putting her into her car seat, patting my chest as if to try to communicate it was only milk she wanted. Then, when she realized it wasn't coming right away, she cried half the way to my parents house (which was probably less than 2 minutes). I was so excited to see the surprised look on their faces to find us both there in the middle of the night just to give them some treats to start their day.

You can imagine my utter disappointment when we pulled onto their street at 3:39 to find that their car was already gone. We missed them. And, now I made this pointless trip in the dark with my crying baby. It would have been so perfect.

We got back home and it took Lucy a little longer than usual to get settled again, but she eventually did and we both got a little more sleep. I was tired, though, when morning officially came and Marc was nice enough to let me get a little more sleep while he took care of breakfast duties.

I knew that once I got out of bed, the day ahead was going to be crazy busy and there'd be hardly a moment of down time.

Made bread, got everyone dressed, made lunch, took Ben to school, went to the store, put Lucy down for a nap, Hugh helped me get ahead on some dinner preparations, picked Ben up from school, went to another store, frosted a cake, made more dinner preparations, then finally it was time.

I got the kids in the car with the three helium balloons they had picked out from the second store and headed over to my parents. We were trying to get to their house before they returned from the temple. We were just barely too late, which I figured out as we passed them on their way to our house. So we turned around and went back. The kids were so excited to jump out and run to wish GG a happy birthday.

It was such a sweet moment! All three holding big balloons, running toward her as she's getting out of the car. "Happy Birthday, GG!!" It was a big one this year, so we planned a little surprise - a scavenger hunt that would take her all around town to significant places from the last so many years of raising her family. At each stop she got a clue and a note or gift from each one of her children. I had made arrangements with my siblings to send me whatever they wanted to give her... and got something from everyone. It was so fun to put together and even more fun to watch her response at each and every stop along the way!

My mom has done an amazing job raising the eight of us. I don't know how she did all she did. I hope she was able to recognize along the way how much we appreciate all that she's done and how much it is still blessing our lives. We've learned valuable lessons, gained valuable skills and talents because of her encouragement and insistence, and desired to make more of ourselves, because of her example.

We ended up back at my house, to a late dinner of chicken cordon bleu, rice, and roasted asparagus, followed by a delicious fruit pizza topped with fresh raspberries and blackberries. It was such a fun day! Ben kept saying it was his party and his birthday. Hugh sang the cutest version of Happy Birthday I've ever heard (and we got it on video, too!). Both boys loved helping to blow out the candles. Such a full day of fun!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Sunday Circus

When I was young I used to love Sundays because they were relaxing, and as soon as church was over I could chill out, sleep all day, do whatever I wanted. But, since having kids, Sundays have taken on a completely different meaning. They've gone from being the most relaxing day of the week to quite possibly the most exhausting day of the week.

We usually get up around 7:30am. I get breakfast started while Marc hops in the shower. I get the kids and myself fed and start cleaning up when Marc stops through to grab his plate (or bowl) and eat quick before he has to leave for his 8:30 pre-church meetings. After he's gone, I get the kids' church bags together - a couple of story books, a couple of toys, a notepad & pen, and a quiet book. Then, I get the diaper bag ready - diapers, wipes, water and snacks. Since church right now is right in the middle of when we'd have lunch, I pack up a ton. Today, for example, I had pretzels & cheez-its, grapes, clementines, fruit snacks, animal crackers, applesauce, yogurt raisins, and granola bars. Just in the last month I've had a couple of people approach me after the first meeting, commenting on how much money I must spend on snacks!

Anyway, so once all the bags are ready, I start getting the kids dressed for church. This process is sometimes much harder than other times, but if everyone cooperates then it should only takes maybe 10 minutes. But that is a very big IF. I usually try to plan for it taking roughly a half hour. I really am much more optimistic than that last sentence makes me sound!

Once all the kids are dressed and ready, it's usually about time to feed Lucy. That used to be the time when she'd go down for her morning nap, but she has now transitioned to just one nap a day, but she still insists on getting her morning feeding in. Then, if I'm lucky, it's finally my turn to get ready, while keeping the peace between siblings and making sure they don't get into any major messes with their church clothes. Sometime around 10:30 Marc returns to pick us up and lend an extra hand. We're usually able to make it just in time to get to our seats and get settled in before the meeting starts at 11.

Then, the real fun begins! And, by this point I'm already exhausted! An hour of keeping three kids still, quiet, and happy. Marc is finally sitting with us - the first time ever (since we've had kids) and so it has gotten a little easier. But, it's still a lot of work. Somehow I'm usually able to get something out of those meetings and feel renewed by them. And, really, with how energetic and boisterous my kids are on a normal day at home, they do really well at church with all the rules we expect them to follow. They know to be quiet, the know not to run out into the aisles, they know how to partake of the sacrament, they know it's a special place where they are expected to act differently. And, for the most part, they do really well.

The exhausting part is there is no mental break to just zone out. There's constantly someone who needs something and you have to be right on top of it before their impatience takes them to the screaming-bloody-murder phase. I guess there is a little break after the first hour, when we take the kids to their different classes. Except that Lucy is two months shy of being able to start Nursery and she's about six months too mature to just sit quietly on my lap during the adult classes. So, she and I do a lot of wandering right now. And I sometimes wonder why we're even there.

And, then there are other times when I watch Ben get up in Primary to give a talk and he does such a good job, or I watch Lucy fold her arms as soon as she hears the word "prayer", or I listen to Hugh pray all on his own in Nursery. Those are the moments when I realize it's all worth the exhaustion of getting them there, keeping them there, and then coming home and all of us crashing. I don't get an entire day to sleep away, but I have plenty of other moments to sleep. And, the precious moments we spend at church are far and away some of the best we have as a family. Plus, I'm pretty sure the majority of people at church appreciate all of the happy sounds from the children... and I'd really hate for them to miss out on that if we weren't there! It must be quite the show - our little traveling circus!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Carpe Diem!

This morning when my Dad and I arrived at our favorite fishing hole, the parking area was blocked with a sign that read, "closed for the season." We had no idea the season was over. We sat there stunned for a good 5 minutes at least, not sure what to do. Do you stay and fish anyway? Do we go back home and be content with the months of fishing trips we've already had? It felt totally anticlimactic - this feeling that I wish I'd known that our last fishing day was actually our last. So that I could have enjoyed it ever more. Is that even possible? I felt deflated and sad that it was over when I was expecting two more months of fishing with my dad.

We decided to drive to this little corner store in the nearest little town and ask about other spots that are open or what the specific regulations are. Luckily they had a book of regulations, so we looked up the fishing spots in our county and found that we technically still have one more week, so we made our way back to that fishing spot and had another enjoyable day fishing together. We came home with four fish, and smiling ear to ear for another memory added to our already rich supply.

But, it made me think about my every day life and what would happen if all of a sudden I came across a sign that said, "This season closed" or worse yet, "Game Over" or "The End."

I really try to enjoy every moment of motherhood. Like, the other day when one of my boys decided that while we were away from home it'd be a good idea to hide in the car long enough to get out a good bowel movement and then come out and tell me he had poopies. In his underwear. As I'm changing him in the middle of a parking lot, I'm trying to get it seared into his head that pooping in underwear is never a good idea. That next time it'd be a much better idea to come tell me he really needs to go potty and then I can take him to a toilet.

Luckily I was prepared with a change of clothes and I had a plastic bag to throw everything nasty away, underwear included. But, believe it or not, right in the middle of that little not-so-fun scenario I was totally thinking, "I can't believe this is actually my life! This is hilarious!" It was like something out of a comedy that you'd think would never happen in real life. And, yet it does... stuff like this is constantly happening to me.

Then there was today when I got to scrub out skid marks in a couple of dozen pairs of underwear, which happens, oh, at least once a week. I know that does not sound fun and I guess it probably really isn't. But, again, it's so far from what I ever would have imagined myself doing that I can't help but laugh my way through it. I made the comment to Marc today, "Remind me that I won't be doing this forever." And, his response: "Yeah, totally. By the time they're six they'll be able to scrub out their own underwear." I totally love my life! I seriously do!

I know tomorrow isn't promised to anyone and I know at any given moment, the end of something really great can come before I'm ready for it to end. That is such an awful feeling - to come to the end and wish you could go back and enjoy the ride just a little bit more. I don't want to feel that, especially when it comes to these early years of raising my kids. I know I'm in a very special place with them right now that some day I'll really miss. I'm not sure I'll miss cleaning up poopy underwear, but I'll miss the innocence of the moment and the kisses that always follow and the feeling that I'm able to do something for them that they can't do for themselves. It's an honor to feel so needed and heroic by my little super heroes.

Maybe it's time to paint a large sign to hang in my kitchen that says, "Carpe Diem". That would be fun. I could teach my kids a random phrase in French, while teaching them a good motto for life at the same time. It could hang next to the other sign I want to make that says, "Mangia, mangia"... another random phrase (this time in Italian), but an equally good motto for life! Don't you think?!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gifts of Life

Yesterday Marc was able to take the second half of the day off work, so we could have a little family time together. We drove down to the Bay, where we first met up with my parents, who were down there for their usual Wednesday at the temple. Then, later we met up with my brother for dinner, who is on a little business trip. It ended up being a pretty long day, but so worth it! It was exactly what I needed and I came away feeling so refreshed and uplifted.

I was reminded of some very important truths, and I wanted to write some of them down so that I won't forget as easily.

1) The world around me is beautiful. Every where I look, there is beauty. I happen to live in a very gorgeous place - a little valley that's surrounded by lush mountains that are extra beautiful this time of year, it isn't far from the beach, and even closer to the most amazing Redwood Grove of its kind. Just a month ago we took some new friends to this particular grove and they were so stunned by its beauty, even paying close attention to the abnormally largeness of the clover leaves, which I hardly even notice now. As we explored the grove with them, I found myself trying to see it with new eyes, as if it were my first time, to feel the same awe and reverence that they were feeling. It made me realize how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place that offers such unique creations to appreciate. And, the most beautiful thing about that idea is that everyone should be able to say the very same thing about wherever they live. That's how beautiful this world is. I want to be more conscious of its beauty and more appreciative of the gift it is. The earth, in all of its beauty, is a gift that is meant to make my life joyful.

2) There is a need to connect and re-connect with those we love. Tomorrow morning, just like nearly every Friday morning for the past 7 months, I get to go fishing with my Dad. My Mom got us both fishing licenses this year and we decided Friday would be our fishing day. We've missed some, but only when one of us has been out of town. Sometimes it's just the two of us, sometimes we take my 3 kids. But, it has gotten to the point that Friday Fishing Day is almost as sacred to me as the Sabbath. Part of that has to do with the time I get to spend with my Dad (and 3 kids) doing something we love, and part of it is the feeling I get that I'm reconnecting to Nature, which to me is completely synonymous with connecting to Deity. I guess in a way it feels to me like the perfect set-up to feel close to both my Fathers. I love the sound of the rushing river we go to, watching the deer frolic in the golden hills on the other side of the river, feeling the warmth of the sun as it comes up through the trees, and just the chance to unplug from the many distractions and plug back into the things that matter most - those eternal relationships, both here and there.

3) I am not perfect and that is perfectly okay. I read somewhere recently - "God has a plan for your mistakes." And, He does! He doesn't expect me to be perfect and never has. He knows my efforts, He knows the desires of my heart, He knows I'm trying to figure it all out. I'm just glad He has it all figured out. I'm realizing there is a lot more I can do to let Him in my life to show me more. I think sometimes I convince myself that part of life is just suffering through blindly until I finally have a stroke of luck and get it right. But, I'm realizing He can open my eyes to new ideas, new beliefs, new habits, new perspectives, that can make the whole process so much easier. I just need to put myself in a place to be ready and listening, expecting the answers to come.

Yesterday was a much needed reminder that this life is a gift. The earth is a gift. The relationships I enjoy are gifts. The plan that God has for my life is a gift. And it is all there for me to enjoy, to find happiness. True, life has its struggles, but life is so much more than just trudging through the hard moments. The views, the people, the experiences are meant to bring me joy. That is the purpose of life - to find joy. It's there, even when the mountain is steep and the way is unknown. And, oh, how I needed that reminder!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trying to figure it all out

For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a mother. As a young child I was admittedly much more interested in sports and things I could do with my brothers, but still I had dolls that I adored. The main two I had were Sugar and Suzie. Aren't those the greatest names? I also had one that my mom brought back from a trip to Germany that had eyes that opened and closed and made this crying noise when you picked her up. It kind of freaked me out a little, which might be why I never gave her a name.

I made beds for them and pretended to feed them and take care of them. As I got older, I did a lot of babysitting and tried to get a glimpse into the future of what it would like when it'd be me as the Mom, in my own home, making dinner for my own kids. It think I assumed it would be as easy and fun and carefree as babysitting. I had no idea how much more would be involved that would detract and distract from the easy and fun side of motherhood.

It's really an incredible juggling act that requires so much more talent and poise than I ever could have imagined. There's the feeding, the clothing, the housework, the bills, the laundry, the grocery shopping, the meltdowns, the naps, the sleep deprivation, the worries about finances or sibling rivalries or how you're going to get it all done and keep everyone alive at the same time.

I normally don't get too overwhelmed by it all, as long as I focus on just one thing at a time. But, every once in a while I just start to feel like I have NO IDEA what I'm doing. I'm trying to juggle all of these things when I really just want to sit on the floor and play pat-a-cake or have dance parties and eat cake for breakfast. So often I feel the need to be responsible and keep things under control. No need to create more chaos where chaos already thrives. But, actually, if I'm in on the chaos, it actually feels less chaotic. Is that because I feel like I'm in control of the chaos I'm creating? Probably. I also had this realization that just because those aren't things I can do 24/7 doesn't mean I can't do them 1/7. Who says that I can't feed my kids cake for breakfast every once in a while? And, why not have a daily dance party?

Earlier this week I found an old CD of music from the Nutcracker, so I popped it in and turned up the volume. The Russian Dance is our favorite. We ran around the room, giggling and bumping into each other until we all fell down in the most exhausted happiness. It was so much fun! And, the best part - there was no fighting over toys or tantrums over not having something go a certain way. It was awesome. Just pure fun.

I came across this video earlier today that I had seen going around facebook for the last couple of weeks but hadn't taken the time to watch it. Well, I watched it this morning and man, oh, man, it had me in tears. I mean like multiple tears falling down at the same time. I'm totally the mom who feels like I'm not as patient as I should be, that I expect way more from my kids than what is realistic, and worry that because I have no idea what I'm doing that I'm probably doing more harm than good.

I opened up about this with a friend the other day and her response was exactly what I needed to hear. She said, "You know, sometimes you just have to look at all the things you're really good at and focus on those. And, then slowly work on adding something else to improve on. We all have things we're good at and we all have things that come harder, so just make sure you recognize all the good you're doing."

And, you know what? Right away I was able to think of things that I'm really good at and it made the mountain of things I'm not good at not seem so daunting. It's a mountain to be conquered and I've always loved a good challenge. I am trying to be present and involved with my kids. I'm trying to create a home that's safe and forgiving. And, even though most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm so grateful for those tiny whisperings within that gently lead me and guide me and help me find the way. I just hope that someday when I look back on this time I'll have far more memories of dancing around the house than running around trying to juggle too many tasks that aren't nearly as important as the little ones at my feet. God knows how I love them!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Family Bonds

My parents have been out of town since last Wednesday. Every night when it's Hugh's turn to say the night time prayer, he always expresses gratitude that Bapa and GG could come over. Well, every night that they were gone Hugh would start to say it and then pause, look up and say, "but, Bapa and GG didn't come over today..." which even resulted one night in a quivering chin and tears. That night he asked me to finish the prayer for him. So, last night as we were getting ready for bed I said, "guess who's coming home tomorrow?!" Both boys in unison, "Bapa and GG?!" I told them they were right and Hugh screamed, "Oh, thank you Mom!!" It was the kind of response you'd expect if we had told him we were going to Disneyland or something. It says a lot about Hugh's personality, too... I love his unashamed joy for the simplest pleasures in life! And, there are few things that make me happier than having my kids think their grandparents are as great (or greater!) than Disneyland!

And, when they pulled up in front of our house this afternoon, it was a mad scramble to the door by all three kids. Ben mowed down Lucy making her fall flat on her back in the kitchen, just because he was so focused on getting to the door as fast as possible. Hugs and kisses and arms reaching to be held and loved. And, my heart, oh my heart, melted a million times over to watch it all.

I have very few and limited memories of two of my grandparents, who passed when I was very young. There was a time when I wondered and worried about whether I'd have kids and then if I'd have them in time for my parents to still be around to be a part of their lives. It was a desire, stronger than most, to make sure my kids would have as much time and experiences as possible getting to know all of their grandparents.

So, whenever there are moments like what we had today and what we had the other night in prayer, I count them among my favorite blessings. There is something so powerful about the bonds and relationships between family and it brings me so much joy to watch them in the forming.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Some Random Thoughts

My super talented husband has been working on a new blog design whenever he has a free minute outside of his very busy work schedule. And, now we have it mostly done and ready to be revealed. I'm so grateful for his help and for the fresh new feel! I feel a renewed excitement to spend a little more time writing again. Now, it's just a matter of making the time to do it. I'm hoping this will help me get back into writing - it is one of my favorite outlets when life gets to be too much. And, speaking of... I seem to be there right now...

Lately I've been so overwhelmed by sad things happening, mostly in other peoples' lives. Death, divorce, abuse, depression, cancer, unemployment... to name a few. I hear about it all, I feel the heavy weight of sorrow. I want so much to do whatever I can to ease burdens and make things better. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to say it, but I'm so grateful for the sorrow I've experienced in my own life. My heart has no trouble feeling that sorrow again and I hope that somehow in feeling it along with someone else, that it eases the weight of their sorrow even just a little.

As hard as life's trials are, I find it so amazing how much God can do when we're pushed to our limits. He always seems to find a way to make so much good come out of the worst of situations. There's a talk by Elder Holland, Lessons from Liberty Jail, where he shares the idea that "man's extremity is God's opportunity." Here's just one tiny snippet of an entire gold-mine of a talk:

"You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced."

Isn't that such an amazing gift?! I have to say that the year after we lost our twins was both the hardest time of my life and also the most sacred. I actually think back to that period with such tender fondness because I felt such a clear closeness to my Father in Heaven. It was such a dark time, so lonely and so confusing... and feeling the contrast of that with the relief and comfort that would come... it was just undeniable that I was not walking that path alone. My prayers were earnest and urgent. And the answers that came were powerful and overwhelming.

And, so now when I hear about others going through hard things, I wish there was some way to prepare them for the spiritual outpourings that are about to come flooding into their lives. I'm afraid it would come across as overly celebratory for trials that are not to be celebrated. But, the rescue, the miracles, the healing that will come... I'm not sure there's something better to celebrate than that!

I used to be really bothered by the thought that I'd sometimes hear expressed at church that "Jesus is my friend." It felt too familiar, too presumptuous, almost sacrilegious or inappropriate. But, after losing the twins and feeling so alone, I found the Savior to be my one constant. He was there on dark nights when I couldn't stop crying. He was there when Marc and I were grieving so differently that we didn't know how to comfort each other. He was there when I'd close up retreat to some private place to be alone. He was always there. It was so comforting to know He'd been there once in His suffering 2000 years ago and that He'd be there again to walk with me through it. That is the best kind of friend there is. So, yes, He is my friend. I love Him.

I hope that all those who are struggling or suffering through hard times will feel the same love, relief, and comfort that I've felt through life's toughest moments. I find so much comfort in the ways the Lord has always led groups of His people through years in the wilderness, until finally arriving at their own promised lands. I feel confident He can do the same for each of us in our own individual wildernesses.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

June Happenings

I keep getting so far behind in posting what's going on in our lives and even more what's going on within the figurative walls of my head and heart, that lately I've felt too overwhelmed to even know where to start. But, I've found that the less I release all these thoughts to fly away in the form of words, the more I feel like I've become a caged bird myself, flapping away and not getting anywhere at all. It's a frustrating place to be and I know myself well enough to know my greatest form of release is writing.

The summer has flown by and we've been so busy making lots of fun memories and accomplishing some important goals and milestones, so let's start there.

The Memories and Milestones of our summer include: a road trip to Utah (where I drove for 11 of the 14 hours since Marc had an injured eye), family reunion in the mountains of Heber City which provided the perfect amount of dirt for two boys and their cars, plus lots of time with Nana,

a visit with my childhood best friend Heidi and her girls and mom,

a half marathon down American Fork canyon with my brother Matt and sister Mandi, which we finished in 2:02:19 (or at least that was my time - my siblings just slightly ahead of me - don't tell them I let them beat me... haha!).

After returning home from our vacation I felt a renewed optimism and determination to conquer the potty training mountain and I will proudly claim victory, even though we're not quite there, since going #2 is still a struggle. But since it doesn't happen as often as going #1, I'd say we're like 75% there! Hooray! I'll take it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hope for the Future

My brother and his family were in town last week and we had so much fun going on lots of little adventures with them. About a week before they arrived my brother sent me an email with a short list of some of the activities they wanted to do while in town. One of those was visiting the grave site of our twin daughters.

I'm always touched by the extra thought that others give to those sweet girls of mine. I was happy to share that experience with them, but there was part of me that wasn't sure how it was going to go with their kids. I mean, going to a cemetery isn't exactly the most comfortable, happy place for most people, right? I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable or sad, so I kept things pretty light-hearted and made a couple of awkward jokes here and there to keep the mood from getting too somber.

But, now that a couple of days have passed and now that I'm facing the five year mark tomorrow, I wish I could go back to last Thursday, surrounded by my family, my parents, my brother and his crew. There are a few things I'd want them to know.

First of all, I'd tell them how I love visiting the cemetery. I love the quiet, peaceful place that it is. I love the deer who have made the place their home, who fearlessly wander through the grass with their baby fawns. I love remembering the dedicatory prayer that Marc offered on the day our girls were buried - specifically the promise that it would be a place of peace and perspective. Over the years, it most definitely has. Whenever life gets too stressful, too heavy, too scary, it is my quick escape, my go-to place to re-focus and remember what really matters in life.

Two years ago, as the third anniversary was approaching I decided I needed a new way to approach July 16th. It just came so natural to watch the calendar and the clock and relive every moment of sorrow, every feeling of shock and disbelief, every pain and heartache, that led up to the twins' early arrival. I was still healing and I knew that was okay, but I felt ready to move my thoughts from the pain of the past to the hope of the future.

Even though there will always be sadness associated with losing them, I also feel an unquenchable hope and reassurance that I'll see them again. I know they're safe and in a happy place. I know they haven't been taken from me and that one day I'll get to be their mother (and hopefully be much better at it than I am right now).

So, two years ago, with those desires to shift my focus to the hope of the future, I felt inspired to paint the picture I had of them in my mind - the carefree spirits of my two girls, happy in heaven, waiting with the same joyful anticipation to our eventual reunion. That's my painting, displayed on the left.

I want to be clear that the pain of loss is real and every year when the anniversary comes around, I feel it all over again and it hurts. Lumps form in my throat for days, until finally the tears just flow effortlessly. But, I also have to admit just as readily that healing is just as real. With every passing year, I feel it more and more. There is a phrase in a song by Mindy Gledhill that says "time is set to heal all wounds." It's true. And, I give all credit to a loving Savior who willingly suffered the pains of life and overcame the sting of death, whose sacrifice makes my hope a reality. He is the reason for my hope and my healing.

As hard as it was to lose my girls, I wouldn't have it any other way. The things I learned from walking through my own valley of sorrow, the undeniable feeling I had that I wasn't walking alone, the closeness I felt to God in the darkest period of my life... I treasure it all so much. I feel an overwhelming gratitude for the miracles that I've witnessed in my own life, evidence (if ever I needed it) that God lives and loves me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hugh turned 3!

Hugh had his third birthday over a month ago. We started the day with two of his favorite things - a fishing trip and doughnuts. He then spent a chunk of the day with Bapa and GG, while I had another commitment to take care of. In the afternoon we had a little party and Hugh finally got his long-awaited bulldozer birthday cake, which he had requested about six months in advance and never once changed his mind. I've never known such a decisive toddler.

I made his bulldozer cake the night before and hid it in the oven, hoping I could pull it out for a big reveal and capture the excitement on his face. It didn't even occur to me that he'd see it through the oven window, which is exactly what happened as soon as he came into the kitchen that morning. He was still just as excited about it later that afternoon when we brought it out, so it didn't really matter. He loved the cake, all of his new toys (excavator truck, fire truck, hot wheels, comic book, and these building block connector toys), and being the center of attention for the day!

Physically, Hugh is doing great! Thirty-five pounds and 39 inches tall, both in about the 70th percentile. And, as of this week, he is officially potty-trained. I should clarify - during the daytime and as long as he doesn't need to have a bowel movement. So... maybe not it isn't quite official YET... but we're working on it and he is doing so great!

Hugh is such a sweet boy! He is strong-willed. He is observant. He is sensitive. He is a fighter of fairness. He is a defender. He is faithful. He is so much like the Hugh he was named after, or what I'd imagine that Hugh to be like. One of these days I need to tell that story. I love his strong voice and his strong personality. I hope to be able to teach how to use those two things to do so much good in the world. And I hope I can be humble enough to learn all I can from him, as he has already started teaching me how to be a better version of myself. I love my little Hugh!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mixed emotions

Every once in a while my birthday falls on Mother's Day. That happened this year. And, as most people know, Marc and I share the same birthday, so with that in mind and it also being Mother's Day, it was a pretty big day around here.

It feels very appropriate to me to celebrate the day I was born on the same day we honor our mothers. It's like a double celebration of my Mom and she deserves that, no doubt. For all who know her well, know how blessed and lucky I am to belong to her. And I am!

The whole weekend, though, felt a little overwhelming and kind of heavy. Like big, dark storm clouds hanging off in the distance. On Saturday there was a tragic drowning accident in our little town, to a family I know and a fellow young mother in our play group. She lost her little boy yesterday, just barely older than my two boys. It hits way too close to home. My heart felt like it broke in a million pieces when I first heard the news. There were a whole lot more tears at church today. It's just so heartbreaking and we're all in shock.

It seems that everyone is feeling a little more protective, a little more cautious, and a lot more grateful for even the crazy moments with our little ones. It's good to be reminded of what matters most in life, but it's hard that it sometimes takes such sad events to remind us. Life is so fragile and mortality is so unpredictable. Death can come to anyone at anytime for any number of reasons. We're just never ready for it to happen to someone so young, so fresh, so full of promise. And, it's humbling to realize no one is immune.

I've had a hard time processing this friend's loss. I can feel my defense mechanisms blocking my emotions to a certain extent, pulling me away from the strong pull of grief. I also fully recognize that my losses are totally different than this loss and it's just too painful to try to put myself in her shoes. It takes my breath away and makes my heart rate increase. It's awful even trying to imagine.

The other side, though, that brings me an incredible reassurance in the face of sorrow and pain is that there is a healing balm available that is equal to the wound. That is a beautiful, miraculous, merciful blessing provided by a very loving Father. No matter the tragedy, no matter the depth and the size of our wounds, there is healing that can be found. It is painful. It is hard and it will take time. But, it is possible to find... and as hard as that journey is and as unwelcome as the path appears, there are powerful experiences along the way.

I'm feeling so much more grateful tonight for my life, my family, my blessings. I just hope I can find ways to help lift the burdens of those who are mourning.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Living and loving my life!

Life is busy around here. My free time lately has been dedicated to things that I love doing. And, I feel so grateful to be able to do so many things that I love.

First, of course, is time spent with my babies. I guess some might argue that time spent with them is not my free time, but I'm going to call it that anyway. On most days and in most moments they are just so much fun. Lucy is growing like crazy! As of today, she is TEN months old. A month ago she weighed 21 pounds 9 ounces and measured at 29.5 inches long - in the 90-something percentiles for both. She has learned how to wave and does it all the time. She's refusing the pureed baby food she used to devour and now insists on eating off my plate. She has figured out how to ride her big brothers' motorized quad, even daring to stand while it's in motion (redefining for us what it means to be fearless). She can stand up with ease and is so steady that we're pretty sure she'll be walking before she turns one. I keep wondering where my baby went... they grow so fast!

It seems that the older the boys get, the more time they spend playing nicely together. They are best friends and do pretty much everything together. I'm so glad they have each other and get along so well, for the most part. They are talking like crazy and come up with the most hilarious things. The other day I captured a moment of the two boys in the backyard, sitting on the steps with big sticks talking about how they were fishing, reeling in their catches. Pretend play at its very best!

They're into pretending to fish because we've been doing a lot of real fishing the last couple of months. My mom bought my dad and I fishing licenses, so we've have a set day of the week when we go fishing together. The second time we went out Hugh happened to wake up while I was getting ready, so I asked him if he wanted to go with us. He was so excited! When we came home later, Ben wanted to go so bad that we all went back out for a little longer. It's a little crazy to have the two boys out with us, worrying about them falling in the water or doing something crazy like getting a fish hook stuck in a finger (like what happened to me when I was a little girl out fishing with my dad and brothers). So, we have rules that we try to get them to follow. Some rules are sinking in better than other... Last week as we were driving out to our fishing spot, I was going over the rules with the boys and when I asked them what the first rule was, Ben said, "Eat doughnuts." Pretty smart kid, I'd say!

Most other mornings are spent running or biking, training for my half marathon next month. So far it's going great! Tomorrow is a 9-miler and I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at.

Most evenings are spent relaxing on the couch with Marc, either watching a favorite show on TV (Survivor or Amazing Race, anyone?!) or helping Marc with some website projects. He's taught me how to do some basic things and I find it fun to help him do what he loves to do. Now, if we can just get my new blog design up and running... hopefully soon!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hope for a Better World

Back when I was 16 or so, I remember sitting in a lesson at church that brought me to tears. I don't remember the topic of the lesson, but I remember feeling overwhelmed with how bad the world was at the time (around 1994-ish) and how much worse it was bound to become by the time I was a mother. And, I decided right then and there that it just wouldn't be worth it to bring kids into such a terrible place. (Yeah, I admit I might have been a bit on the emotional/dramatic side as a teenager. I was only slightly offended when an adult leader once told me I needed to lighten up. Actually, now that I think of it, I heard that more than once.)

It was while Marc and I were cleaning up from our lunch together on Monday afternoon that Marc saw the news about the explosions in Boston. As we saw and heard more details coming in, we immediately understood the gravity of the situation and I felt my heart sink and my head spin. Sadness and confusion. Ben was at preschool and Hugh was hanging out with my parents, so I had a quiet house. I sat and rocked my baby Lucy. I held her close and then laid her gently down for her afternoon nap. She was still sleeping when I had to pick Ben up from school, so I had some more quiet time in the car. (Luckily, Marc was able to work close by to be near her when she awoke.)

It was in the car that the tears came flowing. The sadness and confusion had built up and I needed some release. I consider myself a runner. I've run two marathons, I'm signed up to run a half marathon coming up soon, and I felt like this tragedy had affected and hurt my family. Not just my running family, but people that are part of this great big human family.

I was actually a little surprised myself by how easy the tears came and I paused long enough to consider myself a little crazy for being so emotional about it all. I didn't know anyone that was there (except that later on, I realized that I did - my friend Amy). But, this is exactly the kind of stuff that my teenage fears warned me of.

Stuff like this just feels extra painful when you consider that there are those among us who have their hearts and minds in such a skewed place to think it okay to inflict such awful pain and terror on their own family, albeit "just" human family.

For completely unrelated reasons, not too long ago I found myself drawn to looking more closely at moments in the scriptures when the Lord weeps. There were three that affected me in powerful ways for different reasons. There's the story of Lazarus, which is where we find the oft-quoted shortest verse in scripture: Jesus wept. There's the story of the Resurrected Christ blessing the children among the Nephites and weeping because His joy was full. And, then the story of the Lord showing Enoch in vision the world we live in today. That's the story that has been on my mind this week.

In all of my sadness and confusion, trying to make sense of the senseless, there is one truth that keeps resonating through my veins. God has wept at the hatred and the evil among His own children and surely He is weeping still. And, if He is weeping (which I believe He is), then that means He still cares, He is still aware, and He still has ultimate power to heal and to make things right again. And, as long as there is a God in heaven like that, then there is reason for me to have hope in a better world, even if that is a world to come.

Here I am, nearly 20 years later, raising three children in this much scarier world. I'm conquering my own fears. I'm doing everything I can to keep my kids safe and teach them to be kind. And, teaching them the Source of my hope, because maybe there will come a day when they are sitting in a church class a few years down the road and will be overcome with how scary the world is they live in... and maybe, just maybe, they won't be afraid.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Growing Ben

So, Ben turned three almost three months ago, but we just barely were able to get in for his three-year physical. At his appointment a year ago he didn't handle the whole doctor's office too well. He did some kicking and screaming and made the whole process really difficult. At the time I was five months pregnant and had a really hard time keeping him from hurting himself or anyone else in his struggle.

So, with that memory still fresh in my mind I was a little hesitant in anticipation of this appointment. Thankfully I was able to leave the younger two with Grandma and Grandpa, which gave me some really nice one-on-one time with my little boy who is growing up so fast. If nothing else I realized how much I need to find more time to spend with each of my kids alone.

Right away Ben was weighed and measured. He is 34.5 pounds and 38.5 inches tall - putting him in the 75th percentile for both.

I found the doctor's exchange with Ben to be pretty funny. She started asking him yes or no questions that all had an ideal response of "yes" and Ben answered them all perfectly on cue. "Do you like fruits and vegetables? Do you eat bananas? Apples? Carrots? Broccoli? How 'bout brushing your teeth - do you brush your teeth before bed? Do you eat meat? Chicken? Do you drink milk? Water?" Anyway... you get the idea. There were some questions where his answer should have been "no", but I wasn't going to correct him. It was just too cute!

Ben continues to be far above average when it comes to gross and fine motor skills - the kid is so coordinated, running around in his rain boots that are two sizes too big with effortless ease. We're so happy with the great progress he's been making with his language skills. That has been our biggest concern with his development and I'd say that at this point it's no longer a concern. I mean, it's still something we're actively working on, but he has made such great improvements that we're not as worried about it.

Right now we're mostly concerned with his new-found love of spitting when he's mad and wanting to break things (which reminds me of a good story I should tell about our first broken window a couple of weeks ago.) But, besides the normal three-year old behavior of testing the limits and expressing his independence, he is one fantastic little boy! I love how he likes to hold my hand and when he sits next to me, he'll gently rub my back or my leg to show his affection. He is so gentle with Lucy and continues to work on being gentle with Hugh, too. Ben is so sweet, so adventurous, so creative, and such a joy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Six weeks - where did they go?

I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted. Most of February was filled with fun activities - the first warm days of early Spring that got us outside for picnics, hikes, bike rides and running.

Lucy LOVED her first time on the swings!

Picnic at the lake and feeding the ducks.

It's so nice to live in an area that gets warm enough in February to take our lunch out back for a picnic just because it feels wrong to not be outside enjoying the warm sunshine.

Painting day!

The Ding Dong cake I made for Marc for Valentine's Day was so delicious!! (I altered the recipe a little just because I have a hard time following recipes.)

Then February went out with a bang. We all got a terrible case of the flu, all except Ben. It started with Hugh, then went to Marc and Lucy, then me, then back to Lucy. It was AWFUL. From start to finish, it lasted a little over a week, but then it seemed to take another week to recover from the sleep deprivation and the endless loads of laundry.

In the middle of all of the sickness, Lucy was teething, poor baby! But, I have to say I've never seen a happier sick baby. She'd throw up and then be giggling and want to play. She is such a sweetie.

For a couple of weeks I just felt so exhausted ALL THE TIME. I'm finally feeling semi-human again and that appears to be necessary for me to update my blog. But, I have to admit that the down time we were sort of forced to have was actually kind of nice. We had a couple of days where we all stayed in pajamas all day long and played and watched our new favorite movie - The Lorax. Sometimes it's nice to be forced to slow down.

Right in the middle of our bout with the flu I just had to vacuum. I needed to feel productive, I guess. So, here are my kids on one of our PJ days, cheering for me as I vacuum. It was so cute!

In other news, I'm starting the arduous task of potty training both boys. It is not easy!! I have one that is super willing but will sit on the potty chair for hours and barely get a drop out, and the other who can pee on demand but puts up a fight every single time. My assessment of that is that one is physically ready but not emotionally, while the other is emotionally ready but not physically. Or something like that. So, I'm not officially "Potty Training", but just helping them practice and get more comfortable with the idea. Which means I get them to sit on the potty chair at least once a day and I talk about it ALL THE TIME. One of these days I won't have three in diapers... and hopefully SOON!

And, just because this post hasn't already been long enough, and not nearly enough photos to satisfy the average reader, here are just a few more!

And, with that, I think we're all caught up! I would promise to get better and not ever do this again, but I know better than to make such a promise.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sleepless and Silent Night

Poor little Lucy hasn't been sleeping well lately - at nap times or during the night. She's been waking up a couple of times after I put her down at night and before I go to bed myself, and just cries with a sadness that makes my heart break. Then, she's been waking up 3-4 times a night. I think part of it might be her first tooth that's about to poke through. Part of it might be her little body getting used to eating solids. Part of it might be becoming more aware of being left alone when she just wants to be near someone. Part of it might be all the big milestones she's hitting all at once. Whatever it is, I hope we can comfort her through it and help her get back to sleeping better again.

Marc just went in to take a turn comforting her, while I get things wrapped up for the night and can go in to take over. I could hear his soft humming to Silent Night. I love that my baby girl (and our cute boys, too) has such a good Daddy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lucy at six months

Lucy got to spend her six month birthday taking a little plane ride with me to go visit my sweet friend Christy. The plane ride there she was a champ! She smiled at everyone that would notice her, she nursed through take-off and landing and slept peacefully in between it all.

Then, for three days she got snuggled on by some of our favorite people in the world and enjoyed every minute of it! Luckily there was almost enough craziness in their home as their is in ours, so Lucy felt right at home among their three turkeys.

Some other firsts for Lucy - going to the movie theater (we were all dying to see Les Miserables and Lucy did awesome, sleeping through almost the entire movie! It was such a good movie, too!!), going out to eat, and chilling out at the salon while we got pedicures (no pedicure for Lucy, though... we'll wait a few more years for that!). She is such an easy-going, happy baby!

The plane ride home wasn't as smooth, but it wasn't terrible either. Lucy was extra tired and wasn't too much in the mood to be stuck anywhere for any length of time.

A couple of days after getting back home Lucy had her six month check-up, revealing more of the same healthy growth stats as we've seen from the beginning.

Current weight: 19 pounds 5 ounces (91st percentile)

Current length: 28 1/2 inches long (99th percentile)

She is growing up so fast. Rolling over to get across the room and back, practicing her push-ups, and starting to show some initial signs that crawling might be close around the corner. She has been sick the last little bit, so her sleeping habits have gotten terrible, but I'm not without hope that she'll bounce back into sleeping through the night again really soon. She is a sweetheart, loving us with her passionate face grabbing and pulling us closer for some slobbery kisses. We love her and love the soft and gentle side she brings out of the boys, too! They just adore her!

New Year, New Home

At the beginning of December we found out that our landlord sold the house we were living in and we were given 60 days to find a new home. It was a little stressful not knowing how it was all going to turn out, not knowing where and how and when we'd find a new home, but deep down Marc and I both felt a calm reassurance that everything would come together perfectly. And, it did... more perfectly than I could have imagined!

We looked at a couple of houses on the market and found a couple we were interested in. At closer look, we didn't like the location or the landscaping at one place. The other house was perfect for us, but we found out the owners weren't wanting to rent to pet owners. So our two cats eliminated us. At first, anyway.

When I felt like we were stuck without any further options and was starting to panic just a little, I posted on facebook to see if any of my local friends knew of any other homes we hadn't yet found. Turns out that a good friend of mine (since sixth grade) contacted me about her parents renting the home she grew up in... which just happened to be the very same home we had already inquired about and thought would be perfect for us. When I first called about it, I had no idea that her parents were still connected to it, since I knew they lived on the other side of town. So, after talking with my friend's dad on the phone and explaining our pet situation, they decided to make an exception on their no-pet-policy, just for us!

Unfortunately for them, their house had been left in pretty bad shape from the previous renters, so fortunately for us we moved into a home with brand new everything, a big kitchen, four bedrooms and a separate office space in the very spacious backyard for Marc. It is such a lovely home in a nice, quiet neighborhood.

(Ben playing in our backyard, in front of Daddy's office)

The day we moved in - New Year's Eve - our next door neighbors (who we hadn't even officially met yet) came over with a large pizza, plates, napkins, a plate of cookies, and a dispenser of soap. I'm not sure you can get a nicer, warmer welcome than that!

After a long day of moving in, and after getting the kids settled in bed, I spent a couple of hours cleaning at our old place (with the help of my dad - thank goodness!). It wasn't exactly the way I wanted to spend New Year's Eve, but I did manage to make it back home shortly after ten. Marc and I kicked our feet up and opened up a bottle of Martinelli's, taking turns drinking directly from the bottle. Not having glasses unpacked made the moment that much more memorable.

That first night in our new home, hearing the fireworks going off in the distance as I laid in bed, I couldn't help but feel like celebrating the chance to be in a new home at the beginning of a new year. Right away there was a comforting feeling that enveloped me about our new surroundings, which was quite the opposite feeling I'd had in our last home. There, I spent the first two months feeling regretful about our choice and had an unsettled feeling about our situation.

Here, it has felt like home from the first moment. If walls could talk, I love imagining the happy experiences the walls of this home would reveal from the years my good friend spent here with her happy family. And, I love adding our own happy memories to the good feeling that already exists. I get the feeling it's going to be a happy year ahead. And, I'm so grateful for how perfectly everything worked together for us.