Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm Thankful For... My Smartphone

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday of the year (It's hard to compete with Christmas). I love that it isn't overly commercial, and I love that it gives me cause to reflect on the many blessings I have...one of which is my phone.

If I were to glance at my blog post title from the perspective of a stranger, I would probably roll my eyes and lament the state of a world completely overrun by technology. But, before you begin to think me just another screen addict, hear me out.

Someone once told me that the hours and minutes of motherhood sometimes drag, but the months and years fly by far too quickly. For me, it's easy to get bogged down in the monotony of daily life. After all, I've changed over 2500 diapers this year. There are some chores that just aren't exciting the first time, let alone the two-thousandth.

But, that's why I'm grateful for my smartphone. A few weeks ago, when I was in the midst of the 4:00 in the afternoon "Is-it-time-for-Daddy-to-come-home-yet?" doldrums, I began flipping through the pictures on my phone. This is what I found:









Suddenly, rather than being overwhelmed by the need to come up with ideas of what to do for the next two hours, I was smiling at all the fun we'd had in the past couple of months. See, I need these reminders of all the good, happy, funny, silly, and hilarious moments in my life. It's too easy to focus on all the tantrums, sleepless nights, and fussy times. It's too easy to get swallowed by the laundry, crumbs, and clutter piling up as I try to take care of my boys. But, I am grateful for the convenient little camera on my phone that helps me capture the good moments that would otherwise be soon forgotten, pushed aside by problems to be solved.

So, I am grateful for my smartphone. Not because of the cool apps or its pretty teal color, but because the pictures I take with it help me put my life back in perspective on days that otherwise seem really hard.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

There and Back Again...Our Epic California Trip

So, last week, we did something kind of crazy. We packed up our little family, and we drove to California with Graham's Dad and younger brother. We also met his sister, Megan, and her family there. In five days, we drove there and back and went to Disneyland, California Adventure, and the beach. Can you say whirlwind?

I was more than a little nervous before we left. I knew Will would be okay in the car (thank you, iPad!), but I had no idea what to expect from Logan. He actually did better than expected overall, though I definitely had a sore arm from reaching into the back seat to hold his pacifier in his mouth during some rough patches. 

Beyond the car ride, I didn't know how Logan would do in the parks. After all, they're not really geared toward infants, although I was pleased that several of the rides didn't even have height restrictions. He's now ridden Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, the carousel, and a few others...mostly while sleeping in the Moby wrap. I can't say I would actually recommend taking an infant to Disneyland, but I learned that it is possible, and we still enjoyed ourselves immensely.

My favorite part was watching Will's reaction to everything. He's such a little observer that he didn't react strongly to most of the rides when we were on them. He would just stare wide-eyed at everything going on. But as soon as a ride would end, he would look at me and yell, "More, more!" And, with the help of a few napkins stuffed in his shoes, he was tall enough to ride a lot of the rides. His favorite by far was Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure. He loved how fast the cars went. He was completely exhausted by the end of each day, but I'm pretty sure he would do it again in heartbeat.

Here's the whole gang in front of Disneyland:

Toon Town--We love fire trucks!

Will, exhausted, but happy:

I even managed to get a shot with my boys!

Sandwiched in between our two days in the parks, we spent a morning at the beach. Will wasn't super thrilled about playing in the water, but he loved having a giant sandbox to dig in. His cousins were so good to him, and they were really patient with his tendency to destroy things. We're working on that.




It was a great break from the crowds and fast pace of the parks, almost relaxing even...until I locked our keys in the car. I am so talented, in fact, that I even locked our back up key in the car along with the normal key. I'm impressive that way. Thank goodness for a father-in-law who has AAA and for a speedy locksmith. 

The highlight of that day was getting to see my best friend, Stephanie, who drove up from San Diego. After she waited in the pool area at the hotel for an hour while I sorted our the locked car issue, we finally met up and had a great afternoon letting our boys play at the pool and having dinner at CPK. I tell you what, good friends are hard to come by, and I'm grateful to have one like her. We don't see each other often, but I always love when we do manage to carve out some time to spend together.

So, we survived our adventure, and we made some great memories along the way. Now, on to celebrate Halloween. Stay turned for ridiculously cute pictures!





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blessings

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine challenged me to post the things I was grateful for on Facebook for a week. I could give lots of excuses why I didn't, but let's just skip all that and simply admit that I didn't fulfill the challenge. Still, it got me thinking about all the things I'm grateful for on daily basis.

I am blessed with..

Graham, who loves and supports our family and makes me laugh daily

My two little boys, who provide all the challenges, excitement, & energy I could want

Parents and siblings who have become my best friends and whom I am grateful I'll have forever

A house, car, food, and all the basics of life (and many of the luxuries) that so many in the world go without

Technology, to answer questions big and small

Faith in God, to answer everything that the internet can't

And I could go on forever.

This weekend involved a special blessing. In my faith we believe in blessing babies within the first few months of birth. The blessing is typically given by the child's father and is usually done in our church meetings. However, because of some extenuating circumstances, we decided to bless Logan at home this Sunday. It was wonderful to be surrounded by family and watch Graham take our child and promise him wonderful things from our Heavenly Father.



As I look at this tiny infant, I wonder who he will be as an adult. I wonder what his career will be, whom he will marry, and whether he will make good choices. But as he was blessed, I could imagine for a moment the man he will grow into. And that makes me smile.



Friday, September 12, 2014

The Two-Month-Old, the Two-Year-Old, and the Mom Caught in the Rainstorm

On Tuesday, Logan had his two month check-up. He measured 23 ¾ inches and was exactly 12 lbs. That puts him in the 75% for height and 50% for weight, so he’s a super healthy little man. Hooray!


The best (read: craziest) part of the appointment actually occurred before it even started. A few blocks from the doctor’s office, it started to sprinkle, and I thought, Oh no, PLEASE just hold out till I can get the boys inside. Apparently Heavenly Father thought I needed a challenge though, because it started POURING within minutes. We’re talking, I-can’t-see-through-the-windshield-so-I-better-hurry-up-and-park pouring. I parked the car, knowing I’d be late if I didn’t head into the building right away. Still, I didn’t want to get the boys soaking wet.
As I sat debating whether to make a run for it or not, it started hailing! Waiting in the car won. For a moment at least. Once the hail stopped I thought I’d be brave. I had two umbrellas in the back seat and a hat, so I gave Will a hat and umbrella and left him by the side of the car while I ran around with my own umbrella to get Logan. By the time I got back, Will had let his umbrella slip sideways and was whimpering while getting soaked by the rain. I put back up his umbrella, told him to hold it tight, and we ran. 
The parking lot was flooded, and I realized suddenly that Will’s feet were completely covered by the puddle--no, LAKE--of water between us and the doctor’s office. SO, I picked him up and ran, our umbrellas doing absolutely no good at this point. 
Finally, we made it inside and up the elevator, now 10 minutes late, and I was rushing to get to the office. Again, I heard Will behind me whimpering, and when I turned and looked, he was standing about 10 feet behind me with his shorts around his ankles! I couldn’t help but laugh. I think it was just a combination of his shorts being a little too big and the water making them stick to his legs as he walked. Poor boy! He didn’t know what do (that happened three more times before we got home). I got his shorts pulled up, and we made it to the appointment, which thankfully went really smoothly, even if we were a little wet. 

Adventures in parenting!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Will's Big Boy Room

Once upon a time, I contemplated pursuing a career in interior design. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure that trying to come up with designs for clients that would capture their lifestyle and personalities would cause me enough stress to kill me. I can't even manage to fill the walls in my own home. I have a really hard time conceptualizing what I want my home to look like, so its blank walls continue to look at me longingly.

However, one area I've had a lot of success with is the kids' rooms. There is something so fun about decorating a child's space. There is so much more freedom in decorating a room for a child whose imagination has yet to be tamed (I hope it never is).

With a new baby joining our family, we decided it was time to move Will into a big boy bed and into a new room. I wanted Will’s new room to have meaning to him and reflect his current interests, but I also wanted it to be one that can grow with him over time. He LOVES cars and construction, but I couldn’t bring myself to cover his walls in orange and yellow. So, I started brainstorming. After some Pinterest inspiration, I developed a plan.

I wanted to create a room with the theme of exploration and travel. That way I could incorporate the cars and trucks, but it would be part of a greater concept, one that will hopefully inspire him to be an explorer in life, to love uncovering truth and discovering new things.

When I showed my rough sketch to Graham, his response was something along the lines of… “I like it, really, don’t get me wrong. I just look at it and think, ‘Wow, I didn’t even have a room as a kid for a while, let alone one with matching, themed d├ęcor’.” Thankfully, he really was supportive, and I went ahead with my plan.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on the project, so I created a lot of the decorations myself. I wanted to have it all the way done before Logan was born, but I didn't quite make it. Finally, though, I got the last of the artwork up, and I'm ready to take you on a tour:

This is the view when you enter his room. 

The bed and dresser were old pieces of furniture that we refinished in white. Note: refinishing furniture is NOT my favorite DIY project. It will be awhile before I conquer something that big again. Whew! By the time I was done with those, I decided to leave as-is the table and chairs I had gotten at a consignment sale ($25, wahoo!). I like the blonde wood anyway.

I wanted blackout curtains for the room, but I couldn't find any that were under $50 that were even remotely close to the right color scheme and wide enough to cover both windows. So, I made some. It was another time-intensive project, but I'm happy overall with how the bold navy and white stripes turned out. Just don't look to closely if you ever come over.


In designing the space, it was important to me to give Will a space dedicated to reading. I want him to know that we love and value books in this family. I stole an idea from my brother's house and used IKEA picture frame ledges to create a book display, and on the other side of the dresser I created a "reading corner" filled with comfy pillows. I already had the pillows, and I used mostly scraps & clearance bin fabric to recover them in the right colors, so it was another super cheap project.


The above picture isn't even posed. He just plopped down on his favorite pillow to read while I was taking pictures of his room. It's where we sit and read stories before nap and bed time.



Above the dresser is some artwork I made myself in Photoshop using free clip art. The frames I got on clearance at Michael's for $4 each. The W on the dresser is from his old room, but the colors match the new room better than they ever matched his nursery. Score!


The last project for his room, the EXPLORE letters, sat on my bedroom floor half finished for a month and a half while I adjusted to baby #2. I bought paper mache letters from JoAnn's and spray painted them the same color as the frames on the opposite wall. Then I decoupaged the front of each letter with part of a world map. 


I finally hung them up last week (hence why I'm finally able to post the tour of his room), and I'm thrilled with the way they turned out! 

So, that's the tour! Will loves his room, and I think it will serve him well for a long time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day Adventures

I love holidays! Especially when it means Graham has the day off of work and we can have some fun family time. 

On Monday, we turned Labor Day to into a true staycation. We didn't do anything "productive" all day long. It was wonderful! We just focused on being together as a family. 

We started out by going out to breakfast at The Belgian Waffle and Omelette Inn, a place right by our old apartment that we always told ourselves we should go try, but we never did. It had awesomely outdated decor and a stereotypical diner waitress, but the food was really good.


After filling up at the restaurant, we headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to hike Cecret Lake. I was so impressed with Will, who hiked the entire mile (and 450 ft. elevation gain) up to the lake! 


He was having a great time jumping on and off of rocks, admiring the birds and bugs we passed, and crossing over the streams in our path.


The only picture we have of all four of us...

Logan slept the entire way up and back in the Moby Wrap (I love that thing). He was cranky at the top when I pulled him out to try to feed him. It was bright and windy, too cold for my little man. He was okay snuggled up in Graham’s sweatshirt though, as long as he had his pacifier for comfort.


The adventure took the whole morning (it’s amazing how much longer things take with kids who require emergency stops for car sickness, unexpected diaper changes, and feeding).

(On the way down, Will finally tuckered out and insisted on being carried. I can't blame the kid. Those little legs got quite the workout.)

Will crashed for a nap shortly after we got home, and Graham and I enjoyed a little down time before we headed out again in the late afternoon. Graham had been wanting to take Will up to the rec center in Bountiful all summer because they have a fun outdoor kids’ pool in addition to their indoor facility. Somehow we got all the way to Labor Day and realized that it was now or never (at least not until next summer when the outdoor pool would reopen). So, we drove up, had an early pizza dinner, and headed to the rec center.

I had my own fun adventure of trying to feed Logan in the women’s locker room, and then I met the boys out at the pool. Will had a blast. He spent most of the time going back and forth between the kids’ area (he preferred the indoor one, ironically) and going down the giant waterslide they have there. It’s awesome that he’s allowed on it with an adult. Brave boy!

By the time we got home, it was bedtime, and I was about ready to join Will in sleeping. What a busy day! It was so fun, though, to fill it with family memories. I don’t regret a moment of the crazy schedule. I’m happy to have a few low-key days to follow it up though.  


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Welcoming Baby Logan: My Birth Story



He's here! Our newest little man joined our family on Monday morning, most unexpectedly. When Will was born, he was eight days overdue, and I had to be induced after having contractions for twelve hours that weren't progressing anywhere. The labor was long and difficult. This time, it was a completely different story.

Disclaimer: I'm always fascinated to hear other people's birth stories. The whole process of growing and birthing a baby is an incredible miracle, and I'm in awe of the varied stories I hear about how people welcome their babies into the world. If you're not, you probably ought to stop reading now, just look at the cute picture of Logan, and go back to whatever other exciting links you can find on Facebook. :)


I went to bed Sunday night feeling pretty good, especially considering that I was nine months pregnant and we'd had a busy week of family reunion activities. I’d been having more and more contractions over the past week, and I even thought at one point that they were turning into the real deal...on the Fourth of July...but they had slowed down, and Sunday had been pretty normal. We went to bed about 10:30, and I was looking forward to having the next few days with my mom in town to get things ready for the baby. 

Apparently, he was impatient to get here.

At 1:00 a.m. I woke up and had that groggy, surreal moment where I realized that my water had broken. I got out of bed, woke up Graham (after two tries), and my adrenaline kicked in, realizing that this was really happening. I wasn’t really having contractions though, so I was worried that I would have to be induced to get labor going. I knew they wouldn’t let me sit around too long waiting for contractions to start on their own because I had tested positive for the Group B Strep bacteria, so I prayed that contractions would start soon. 

The next hour was a quiet, busy time. I called my mom to ask her to come up and stay with Will. Then I called the hospital to verify that they wanted me to come in as soon as possible, even though I wasn’t really having contractions yet. They said yes, so we tip-toed around the house packing bags for the hospital, tried to get everything together that my mom would need to take care of Will in the morning, and headed off to the hospital 40 minutes later when my mom arrived. By then, I had started having contractions, and although they weren’t strong, they were consistent and seemed to be getting stronger. 

We got checked in at the hospital, they confirmed that my water had broken, and said that I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced. I felt moderate, consistent contractions about 4 minutes apart at this point, so I was feeling good about the direction things were heading. I just tried to mentally prepare myself for the long process that labor can be. My plan had been to have the baby without medication, and I had been reading about and practicing strategies to help me relax (In fact, Graham and I had just discussed before bed that night some ideas of things he could do to help out during the labor process). My biggest goal was to focus on relaxing everything in my body around the baby, getting out of my own way, and letting my body run the show. I was feeling confident for a while in doing this. I sat in the bed for awhile, waiting for them to monitor the baby, and put in the IV that would deliver antibiotics to lower the risk of infection to the baby because of the Group B Strep. I was a little annoyed to be stuck in bed, but I was feeling calm overall. The nurse said she had called my midwife and that she would be here in a while. Because I had just arrived, she was going to “catch another wink” and then come up.

After a bit, the contractions started feeling stronger, and I started to get shaky. It was frustrating to me, because the shaking was uncontrollable, and I couldn’t relax the rest of my body when it was shaking so much. I remembered the shaking from my first labor, but I didn’t remember it happening until much later in the process. It was discouraging to feel like I was losing my focus and control over relaxing so early in the process. (I realize now that I was actually already beginning transition and just didn’t know it.) I told Graham that I wanted to get in the tub, since that had been the most helpful thing during my first labor. I did, and the warm water immediately helped calm the shaking...for awhile.

I was just starting to wonder where the midwife was and when she was going to come, when all of the sudden I started experiencing some really intense contractions. I couldn’t relax through them, I couldn’t find a position to help, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was out of strategies. Graham supported me as I tried to cope, but I suddenly had the urge to push. Surprised, I reached down, and I realized that I could feel the baby’s head. I told Graham, who scrambled to call the nurse while I tried not to push.

Only a few seconds later, she arrived with several other nurses and checked me, declared me “complete/complete” and calmly (and quickly) talked me through her plan. She expressed that she would rather not deliver the baby in the tub (I agreed), and suggested that after the next contraction she and Graham would help me up and over to the bed where I’d be able to deliver. They did, and as soon as I was there, she gave me the okay to push. It only took one push to get his head out, and one more to get the shoulders. The rest of his body came, and I felt SUCH relief. Oh my, did I feel better. It was 4:51 a.m., less than three hours after we arrived at the hospital.

The nurse laid him on my chest almost immediately, and I got to hold him while Graham cut the cord. They took him across the room briefly to weigh him and dry him off, then brought him back quickly for me to hold again. He weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and was 21 inches long. So, not as big as his brother, but still a good, healthy size. He has lots of dark hair and looks a lot like Will as a newborn. 



A few minutes later the midwife arrived. I was almost giddy with relief and joy at being able to hold my new baby as she took care of finishing things up. As she was working, I was joking with her about how her two o’clock appointment (me) was going to be cancelling that day. I think because the labor was so fast (albeit intense), I wasn’t as exhausted as I was with Will. Especially because the pushing was so brief. 

It was a night and day different experience, and continued to be so for the remainder of the hospital stay. My recovery has gone SO much more smoothly this time, nursing has been so much better (though it still takes some practice and getting used to again), and it was mostly just wonderful to have a healthy little boy with whom I could snuggle in my hospital bed instead of having to go down to the NICU every three hours to feed. It was a much more relaxed experience.


(Will discovered very quickly that the hospital has really good snacks in the fridge.)

Now we're just trying to get used to being in the newborn stage again and figuring out what the new normal is for our little family of four. We're all having to adjust a little bit, but we love Logan (especially Will, who is obsessed with giving him hugs, burping him, and giving him toys to play with). Here's to another chapter in our adventure as a family!


Here are a couple more pictures of my beautiful boy!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Don't Let Go of Graham

I looked down at my leg the other day, and smiled at what I saw. See, I have an awesome scar on the outside of my right knee that has a great story and an even better lesson behind it.

(Graham & I in July of 2010)

It all started about four years ago, on Pioneer Day of 2010. Graham and I spent the whole day together, a rarity for a young couple dating while working full time. He was house sitting for friends in Provo, and we decided it would be fun to float the Provo River, something I'd never done before.

So, we suited up, drove up the canyon, and purchased tickets for transportation and tube rental. It was blistering hot, and the bus we rode to the river's entrance was sweltering, so I was really looking forward to getting in the water.

Immediately upon getting in the water, however, I realized how STRONG the current was. Even though it was only up to my knees, I could hardly keep myself standing long enough to climb oh-so-gracefully into my tube. Then, just as I settled in, I lost my balance, lost my flip-flop, and toppled into the water. Great start. Thankfully, Graham was close by and helped me retrieve my shoe and, once again, to get settled into my tube.

I figured that if I could just keep myself centered in the tube, I'd be fine. Wrong again. It turns out that when your appendages barely reach the water, it's kind of hard to steer yourself. Graham, on the other hand, with his super-long legs and arms, had a much easier time navigating. Seeing how much I was struggling, he maneuvered himself to where I was, then grabbed my hand and steered us both down the river.

We floated, and laughed, and had a great time...until we came to a spot where the river split around a little island of brambles. As we came closer, I felt like I was getting pulled away from Graham by the current. He still had a solid hold on me, but the bushes and driftwood around the island were looming closer. I panicked. Afraid that if I kept dragging on Graham, I would drag him into the bushes with me, I let go of his hand, pushed off, and tried to fend for myself.

Bad plan.

As I scrambled to steer around the branches, I realized I was at the mercy of the river, and I slammed into a particularly pointy branch that was just at the right angle to create a nice gash in my leg. Somehow, I managed to reconnect with Graham, and we finished our float without further incident.

I didn't think a lot about the occurrence until I was telling my mom about our float trip later. She listened, and then, with a smile in her voice said, "See, there's your lesson: don't let go of Graham."

I laughed at her comment then (my parents were openly rooting for Graham and I from the beginning of our relationship), but I've thought about it many times since.

That day, I learned that even though it's scary to trust someone, some people really deserve that trust. I learned that it's hard to give up some of your own independence, but the strength you gain from teaming up with the right companion is worth the sacrifice. I learned that when you stubbornly pull away, thinking you're better off alone, you're wrong.

That day, I learned that Graham was worthy of any trust, sacrifice, and love I could offer him. He would always be there for me. And he always has been. As we have continued along our adventure together the last several years, he has been my constant support and strength. He holds me steady when I'm stressed, exhausted, and anxious. He works so hard to build a strong career to support our family, and he fights just as hard to make sure that he is at home as much as possible to be an example to Will, give me a rest, and help around the house. He gets so little time for himself, and yet, even on Father's Day, he just did a bunch of dishes while I put Will down for a nap so I would have time to rest, too. That is the man I call best friend, father of my children, and eternal companion. That is the man I will forever proudly stand by and hold onto.


And now, every time I look at that little scar on my leg, I remember the lesson I learned four years ago. I remember that our life, our marriage, our family is worth more than anything else. I remember to always hold on to Graham.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What I Learned Today

A few weeks ago in church we had a great lesson about seeking for truth. As a part of that, we talked about all the different ways we gain knowledge and that it's important to be aware of the knowledge we gain in all aspects of our lives. Now, my career was built on a belief in the importance of taking responsibility for our own learning. But I'm not in the classroom every day anymore, so I have to look for other ways that I am learning.

Because I AM learning. Life as a mother and home owner has opened my eyes to all sorts of knowledge. So, I've decided to start recording some of the lessons I'm learning on a daily basis. Some big. Some small. But all important.

Here's some of what I learned in May:

May 3: Fancy dinners are really nice when someone else is paying. And, despite the name "torta morbida" is a really good way to finish the meal. It turns out it's just the way you say chocolate-cake-that-is-so-good-you-might-die-so-beware in Italian.

May 5: When renovating your lawn, remember that, like so many things, it must get worse before it gets better. Don't worry, the war zone will look good in the end.



May 6: Green grass is a beautiful sight to see when looking out your windows.

May 7: It takes a spreadsheet with NINE columns for me to plan a five day trip away from my child where three different people will be watching him.

May 8: All-inclusive resorts are as good as they sound, or at least ours was.



May 9: Senor Frog's is all it's said to be...and more. Which is to say, it is SO not my scene. Bless Graham's boss for asking us if we wanted to ditch out early with them and catch a cab back to the resort.

May 10: Babymoons are just as good before the second child as they are before the first...no, better!

May 11: I really do like long walks on the beach at night.



May 12: Traveling for 12 hours while 7 months pregnant gets kind of uncomfortable toward the end. Oh, and lying down does NOT help heartburn.



May 13:
As wonderful as it is to have a break from kids, my life as a mother IS my life...and I love it.


May 17:
It doesn't take much to make a two-year-old happy for his birthday. Balloons, a trip to the farm, fun with family, some new toys, and cake. He was in HEAVEN.



May 18:
Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce look quite similar, but they don't taste alike. One should always double check the label before pouring on rice...or pot stickers.

May 19:
Using a lighter to soften the end of drip line tubing makes it significantly easier (actually possible) to attach it to the connector piece. It will save your fingers a lot of pain. It will NOT, however, save your pregnant back from the strain of leaning over to install the aforementioned drip line.

May 21:
I'm not in college anymore. My body can't handle staying up past 11:00 for several nights in a row. While it's good to be productive and accomplish things sewing, reading, learning Photoshop, and gardening, it is NOT a good idea to do those things at the cost of wearing down your body. Oops. Enter a summertime cold.

May 23:
Dating your spouse is important. Even if it's just a simple at home date. Scheduling time to really connect and get out of the rut of daily life reminds me how much I really like this guy I married.

May 28:
Stripping the paint off of furniture is NOT for the faint of heart. It's messy, time consuming, and doesn't make you feel like as much of a DIY rockstar as you thought it would. Mostly, it just makes you feel discouraged, and tired, and like you may have gotten in over your head.

May 31:
It is really encouraging to see a seed you planted with your own hands pushing through the soil, straining for the sunlight. Grow little sprouts, grow!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Holidays with Kids are SO Much More Fun!

Happy Easter!

I'm a little late getting my "cute kid all dressed up for Easter" pictures posted, but at least I'm getting them up now. Yes, this is as good as it gets as far as being all spiffed up. 

That's my boy. Crazy hair, a dirty shirt sleeve from who-knows-what, and a candy in his mouth blocking his smile, but it was the only way I could get him to stand still long enough for me to snap a few pictures. Still, I adore him!


And here are both of my boys looking splendid:


I have always loved holidays, but having a child of my own has taken my excitement about celebrating to a new level. Especially now that Will is old enough to understand some of the traditions and fun activities associated with things like Easter (although I'm still working on helping him understand the deeper meaning of the holiday), I am so excited to introduce him to all the things I loved about Easter so much when I was little.

It didn't take him long to catch the vision of the Easter egg hunt. On Saturday evening we went to a neighbor's house for a party/hunt, and without any prompting, he started picking up eggs and candy and putting them in his basket. Apparently, there is an innate understanding of the value of candy-filled eggs.

On Sunday, when he woke up from his nap, Graham had left a trail of Easter eggs across the backyard leading to his basket of goodies behind the shed.


With every egg that he found, he exclaimed "OH!" with more and more excitement until he could hardly contain himself.


At first, he wanted to eat the candy inside each egg before going on to the next one, but we finally convinced him that he could eat them later and we would save them for him.



Needless to say, he enjoyed himself immensely.



There is something magical about watching my child experiencing something for the first time, especially something that holds so many magical memories from my own childhood.


Of course, he and Daddy had to try out the silly string that was in his basket. Will thought it was fun, as long as it didn't touch him.


We had some of Graham's family over for dinner (which of course I forgot to photograph), and I even made a successful batch of Easter bread (a traditional Russian food). As I was kneading the dough, I told Graham, "this is the kind of cooking that feeds my soul". That's what holidays do for me. They feed my soul with familiar smells, tastes, sights, feelings of love, reminders of things that are important to me. They remind me of where I came from and who I want to be. They give me opportunities to share those traditions with my children. They bring everything full circle.