Merry Christmas

This Christmas season has been full of many things. We've had get-togethers, and parties, singing and sledding. We've had Christmas shopping and light decorating, card sending and gifting. What a wonderful time of year. I've been trying to get everything done so I can take a moment to soak it all in.  

I've had those moments here and there amid the errands and checking off lists. The moments when you can just feel the good and remember Christ's birth and how he lived and what he taught. One of them was just this evening.

I began to make tonight's dinner and bake some bread for our Christmas meal (we are going semi-traditional with ham sandwiches...at least we are having ham!). The doorbell rang. We have had neighbors dropping off gifts often the last few days. But I opened the door to my uncle! I haven't talked to him for at least 9 months, possibly a year.  Our families used to get together every Christmas for many years when I was a child and into adulthood. But everyone has grown and his wife (who hosted the party) has ill health, so the party has fallen to the wayside.  And I don't get a chance to see them much. 

But there he was, on my doorstep!

"We got your Christmas card in the mail and in the back it said that you guys like cinnamon rolls. So I thought I'd bring you some different kinds to try." He then proceeded to hand over some frozen cinnamon rolls, "Make 'em whenever you want. Maybe for Christmas breakfast!"

We chatted, I thanked him, gave him a hug and wished him a Merry Christmas. And off he went. I walked back in the house as I thought about his kindness. 

Here was my uncle, who is taking care of a suffering wife, thinking of me and my family on the eve of Christmas Eve.  Reaching out to another without any ulterior motives, just simple kindness.  That is the Christmas spirit indeed.

And with that I say, may you all (whoever still reads this) have a wonderful holiday full of the Christmas spirit!


First big storm

We woke up to a ton of snow and it keeps dropping. Jess and Ollie braved the snow and were off to work and school while Ansel and I stayed home.  Throughout the day, I shoveled the driveway three times. Let's just say I am grateful our driveway is flat and narrow. My last shovel session was done in the dark while the kids played. It was a winter magic kind of evening. 


Look who made the Saturday Evening Post

Seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the BYU MOA this weekend was a highlight for me.  And what fun people to do it with!

At one point a a man going through the exhibit said to his friend, "I think these are all prints." The sad thing, he was looking at real paintings!  

Art does the body good, no doubt about it. 


With lots of thanks giving

A morning football game, finger painting, a personal turkey trot, mustachioed husband putting up lights, roll and cranberry sauce and mashed potato and pie making. I look around and there is much to be thankful for.  Use this good, I think to myself, for more good. 

p.s. There will be 6 pies at my brother 's house for dessert this year. I was not assigned to bring one, but I just had to make a pie, of course! So I made one for our family to enjoy...later. Baking issues...


on the ride home

Ansel: What eats bees?
Mom: I don't know.
Oliver: Chameleons!
Ansel: Whales eat ants.
Oliver: I guess an anteater is kind of like a whale.


signs that you are getting older, part 3

As mentioned before, I often remember my mother saying she never felt older than 26.  She was in her fifties when she told me this and I was in my teens, so I could hardly comprehend what she really meant.  Her point, however, is becoming clearer and clearer as I get older myself.  I also recall my sister-in-law reminiscing about her college years, gushing like they were the best ever!  I was in college at the time and thought to myself, "Sure, college is good, but how could someone love it that much?" I now gush over memories of college.

Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying my current years.  This stage of life is cool, interesting, and indeed wisdom-building.  Regardless, I still feel about 23.  Yet, there are still outside clues to help me understand that I am not that age.  And with that, I build upon a two previous posts I did a few months back and give you more signs that you are getting older:

1. The Western Nut holiday gifts actually look tasty.
2. You drive three teens home from an activity and ALL of them sit in the back.
3. You like cranberry sauce.


That moment when...

...you've done (some) Christmas shopping early but your son declares to you that he's not into I Spy books all that much anymore and he'd really like a digital watch instead of one with hands because he wants to see the seconds count up.

I'm going back to late Christmas shopping :)


A car I love...

Today Jess posted our Suzuki SX4 to online classifieds. He posted the ad at 7am and the car was sold by 2:30pm. Wow!  I couldn't believe it. Nice that it was sold, but my heart could not help but be a little sad.

It's always hard for me to let a car go. I've done it twice now and it doesn't get any easier. I'll tell you why. The Suzuki (or as Ansel says, Bazuki) was Jess and my first major purchase as adults. We researched and got a screaming deal for a car we needed to hold our soon-to-come first child. We brought Oliver home in the Suzuki. I weaved through the streets of DC like a pro in that zippy thing. We took family road trips, crossed the country twice, and took our first live Christmas tree home on the top of it. I loved the all wheel drive, manual, four-cylinder. The car gave and was trusty and it kept us going. I love the thing and as it drove off with its new owner I couldn't help but think, "good luck old buddy." 

I am so sentimental.  I can hardly throw a pair of socks away without this feeling.  But if I wrote a post about that, it may be a bit over the top. As if this one isn't already. 

Have you ever had a hard time saying good bye to a car? Something else?


On the way to school

We start the car and classical music plays on the radio - a spillover from Sunday. 

First thing Ollie says: Mom, instead of this can we listen to hip music!?


Lessons learned on Sunday

Jess: hey Ansel, what did you learn today in nursery?

Ansel: we had snacks!


Maps & the Final Countdown

Oliver is very into geography these days. He's into studying maps and and drawing them. He's also interested in reading about different countries and states. His latest work brought all of these interests together. It also exhibits his good manners (see inscription below). 

Ansel is into listening to "The Final Countdown," a song he reminds me is his favorite all of the time. He knows it is track 5 on the CD downstairs and can queue it up himself. He's into building things. The latest this brick wall for his house. And something to note, the pumpkin on the left is "roasting in the oven" according to what he told me. 

These two boys are extra extra special.


Yogurt popsicles on a fall day

Uneventful days are bliss sometimes. Speaking of, a friend of mine told me the other day that she is a homebody, as if it was a bad thing. I say, cheers! If you have a wonderful home and wonderful people in it, what a great place to be. Yes, I love getting out and doing, it keeps me sane honestly. But a day at home making your kids lunch, reading them books, drawing, sweeping the sidewalk, baking something; I can dig. The ordinary is beautiful. The norm is swell. 



Conversation with Ansel today:

"Ansel would you like a quesadilla for lunch?"

"Um, I want avocado."

And avocado it was, with a side of quesadilla. 

This guy is just as cute as can be!



This morning while Ollie was getting ready for school he said to me:

Mom, even though you are an adult to me, to God you are a child because you are a child of God. 

Magic to my ears! Then we discussed that age is relative in heaven. That led to talking about where heaven is. And before we knew it, it was time for school!

In my prayers at night I ask God that he will help me in teaching my kidlets that they are his children and loved by Him. This, I think, is one of the biggest, most important things anyone can learn.  Sometimes, I don't know if what I am doing is effective or if I could do more to help my children know (and feel) this. But I will continue and hope that I am prepared for any future discussions. 


On and on

Have you ever heard the song from Disney's Robin Hood called LOVE by Floyd Huddleson and George Bruns?  It is one of my favorites.  One of the lines I enjoy the most is:

Life is sweet, but when it's gone, 
Love goes on and on.

Sure, this song is about falling in love, but that last line of the song speaks to the everlasting strength of love.  Love makes us stronger, bolder, more caring, and unselfish.

Lately, I've seen a lot of hard things happen to the people I love.  And I get to worrying and wondering where I need to put my hope and faith and energy.  During these hard times, I've seen lots and lots of effort poured into supporting, helping, and strengthening these people.  I see the love.  Oh how I see love in everything these people do.  And I feel the love of God.  Jess says this is where I need to put my energy and my hope, in the power that love has in these situations and how it will carry me (the worrier) and those suffering through every thing we happen to deal with.  I think I can do that.



For a few weeks Jess couldn't seem to charge his phone very easily.  To get a good connection from the charger to the phone was very trying and if you got it in the right position and could keep it there, the chances of it holding were slim.  Jess and I started complaining about the fact that the phone quality should be better than that.  It should not have a problem with the charger connection until you've had it for five years, not two.

Then last night Jess looked inside the charging socket.  He then proceeded to take a toothpick and remove a pinky fingernail sized bit of lint from it.  The charger connection is working great now.  We aren't complaining about phone quality anymore.  In fact, we were impressed that you could actually get a connection sometimes with the amount of lint that was in there. We will be checking for lint on a regular basis from here on out.


July likes to fly by

July always speeds along quickly with much goings on here and there with nary a chance to take a breath, but boy, is it fun!

Now I know today is 27 July, but my last few days of July I've got a trip and I don't foresee me sitting down to post until around 10 August when I'll be spouting on about how I can't believe it's August already!  And how school starts on the 19th. But I digress. 

July! What a time we've had! Beginning with cousins from back east coming to visit. We had lots of fun going to the zoo, enjoying the classic BBQ, Grandpa and Grandma's new pool, and lazy evenings out on the porch swing. Summer + porch swing = ahhhh. The Fourth of July was as great as ever, full of parade wonder and clever comments all the way to water balloons and fireworks. 

At the zoo watching the spraying dinos
Get Uncle Jess!
Sparkler lighting

Then girls camp came and went. I was able to catch a little more than half of the fun and it was a good time. I slept so well, ate even better, and played Catch Phrase round after round. The girls were top notch and hopefully it's clear to them that I think so. 

{no photos here due to the no electronics rule}

Bring on family reunion 2015! We had a splendid time playing at the beach, visiting the San Luis Rey mission, going to Legoland, and singing and dancing. I boogie boarded to my heart's content and so did Jess (although he could always do more). Our kids couldn't get enough of the beach. Plus, we learned Ansel loves cacti and Oliver loves drawing (we had to make an emergency run to buy crayons!). 

Ollie gives boogie boarding a try
Ansel on a California evening
Pointing out the cactus spines
My first ever viewing of a lime tree
The mission steps
Oliver loved this Legoland globe, we got a photo of each quarter of the world
On the pier one evening
We could hardly get the kids to sit still for this photo, they were having such a fun time with cousins

Add that to the splash park visits, the swimming pool, and friend outings, and July (and summer) has been a good time indeed!


Observing good

Today I saw a UPS delivery guy bring a  resident's recycling bin in from the curb as he dropped off a package. 

Such good. 



Ansel climbed up a couple of shelves in the pantry, grabbed the candy jar, and ate all of its contents - 3 fun size almond Snickers. Needless to say, he did not want lunch. 

After I couldn't buy lemonade from some kids in the neighborhood because I didn't have any cash, Oliver told me if he had a lemonade stand he would sell a cup for $0.01. Jess commented that we may need to teach Oliver about profit margin. 

I pruned our dogwood bushes for some hours this morning. It was surprisingly rewarding. 


Lost tooth

Oliver has had a loose tooth for about a month. This morning it was hanging by a thread. As Jess left for work this morning he gave Ollie a fun ultimatum, "Ollie, when I get home, I want that tooth to be out."  Ollie got nervous. Was it possible? 

This afternoon as we were eating our lunch at the park, Ollie bit into his PB&J and stopped suddenly. The tooth had fallen out and boy was he excited. "Dad's going to be so glad." I was glad too. His adult tooth had been visible behind the baby tooth for a few weeks. We called him shark boy and I knew that baby tooth needed to come out stat. 

When we got home Ollie shined the tooth by giving it a good solid brush. It's now glistening and safe in his tooth holder. He and I are currently plotting how he will tell his Dad that the tooth is gone. 

Wow, I've got a kid with a lost tooth. Time sure keeps on tickin'. 


Making sense of it all, 2 and 6 years old

Ansel and his 2 year old and 4 month self is talking lots.  He speaks very clearly and thoughtfully.  But sometimes things get mixed up.  Like say,
Gorilla becomes Granola,
Big Bird becomes Bird Tird,
Escalator becomes Excavator,
and my favorite Ansel quote yet, when looking for something that he clearly wants but isn't quite sure what it is: "Where's my mines?"  This kid is clearly in the MY stage.  He loves to sing, and hearing him come up with the words is the sweetest. And lately when we're driving, he always yells, "Go Mama!" when we stop. Jess and I wonder: if this is what he is like at two, picture his driving comments to us when he's a teen. Oliver did this same thing, so when they are 13 and 17, just picture the back seat driving. Haha!

As for Oliver, he's trying to get the concept of money, but it is still abstract.  Try explaining a credit card to your 6 year old.  I don't do a very good job of it.  The other day Ollie thought I could buy a credit card and then we could buy anything and everything we wanted (sounds like a dude I went on a date with in college).  Yes, I've got some clarifications to go over.  But he's getting it and for his birthday he wanted a specific something.  It was on the expensive side.  "I know mom, we could use the money in my money jar to start to pay for it.  Then, we could enter a video into America's Funniest Videos and win the $10,000 prize and pay for the rest of it!"  Good thinking Ollie!  What's more, when I'm searching Google or Amazon for something we may need he strongly suggests, "Remember to type in CHEAP, Mom." Good thinking once again Ollie.

These guys are my favorite. 


signs that you are getting older, part 2

1. You go to your child's school office and check him or her out.
2. You start having conversations about your lawn, e.g. "Have you turned your sprinklers on yet?"
3. You ask kids what grade they are in at school.
4. You mistakenly call a 18 year-old neighbor his 15 year-old brother's name.
5. You now have several reasons to frequent Home Depot.

I think I swore to myself that I would never do anything like number 3 or 4, but just this last week, I was guilty of both.  And back when I was in college I really had no idea why there were so many Home Depot commercials on television.  Who is doing all that home maintenance/remodel stuff? I thought to myself.  Now I know.


Easter 2015

Extremely grateful for these people. 



This quote from Amelia Earhart resonated with me when I saw it at the kids' museum yesterday. 

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can do anything you decide to do. 

You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. 

p.s. whilst in college, a group of friends came to call me Amelia saying I looked like her. My first thought was, "Amelia? I look like Amelia? Why couldn't it be some other beauty?" Quickly, I snapped out of that and remembered the goodness of Amelia. I embraced the nickname - short hair, tenacity (which I am still working on) and all. 


April fool's day

What kind of stuff should we do to fool mom?

Oliver is really into doing some fooling of his own this year. We worked on a sign to surprise dad. He ran through it right as Jess came in the room. Good way to start the day. 

Then he asked Jess to help him with a few tricks. The first, telling mom he didn't have school today. Classic. The second was even more classic.  This is how it panned out. 

Dad, what's another joke we can do to mom?

Get a piece of candy and take the candy out. Then re-wrap it so it looks like a piece of candy is really in there. Then ask mom if she'd like a piece of candy. 

Ollie runs in the kitchen and asks, Hey mom, can I have a candy wrapper?

And, of course, I appeared totally fooled when he gave me that same wrapper wrapped around a rubber ball and looking like a chocolate Bon Bon. 

And in other news, Ansel likes that spring has sprung around here. Our front and backyards have become an extension of the play room. 


A note

This note was waiting for me when I got home from a Young Woman activity. 

"Dear mom, if you got a treat from young women's, put under my pillow. "

Love it. 


Warning labels

This prize (suggested for use by children 4+) came with a recent kid's meal we purchased on a road trip. Notice the warning label on top. I don't know why any child would need adult supervision while drawing. Paper cuts? Eating of crayons? This seems to me to be a bit ridiculous. 


Early morning adventures

Having young children on a vacation usually means early mornings. And some late nights. This past weekend we did a mini vacation, and getting the kids to sleep the first night was an adventure. They were so pumped to be on a trip and in one room all together, they couldn't settle down. I was saying things like, "Guys, I've almost fallen asleep three times, but you guys can't settle down," and "put your heads on your pillow and close your eyes, then sleep."  Jess laughed at how good of a mother I sounded like with those great statements. And after all that they continued to giggle until it was so late that they were so exhausted they fell asleep. 

The next morning was another excited one, so we got up early and got going. We were the first to arrive at the sand dunes at the state park and it was magical. For an hour we walked, jumped, slid, dug, made sand angels in this quiet, serene, beautiful place. It was wonderful. This is a great thing I've learned as a parent. No matter how tired I am or how much of the sleep demon I possess (which in our family is the unsatisfied and illogical state one gets into when still tired but just woken up), I always end up having a grand experience with my family in the early morning. I am amazed what we can fit in before 10am!  These moments of cool air, quiet calm, and no one around, with two very curious and adventurous boys are some of the greatest.  


The latest: a photo essay on life doings

Lately, we've been up to some things. Lots of them have been wonderful.  Most notable are those pictured below. 

Dino museum with G&G T

Aquarium with Dad

Basketball hoop inside and out

Tea party with aunts, nieces, and grandma 

Ski day

Bowling competition (wow, Ollie is looking grown up!)

Bubble baths

And now it's March 11th already. Wow!


1959 bowling alley

In our neck of the woods there's a country club and it's getting torn down in just a few weeks to make room for a new one. I'm so sentimental it's hard for me to see the change. But the funny thing is, I haven't spent all that much time at the club. A few wedding receptions plus running and driving by it is really all the exposure I've had to the place. But still my heart is sad to see the old go. I don't know what it is: dislike of change, liking the history of old things, realizing I'm getting older.  

Imagine my excitement when we were invited as a youth group to bowl in the small bowling alley in the basement of the country club tonight. It was the last night you could bowl at the place and we had all six lanes to ourselves. Plus, they aren't rebuilding the alley, so this was the last night you could bowl at the country club forever! I couldn't get enough!  I love a good game of 10 frames. The place was built in 1959 but is as pristine as ever (well, as pristine as a bowling alley can be). And we had to keep our own score with wax pencils and everything. No neon lights or pixelated scoring screens with cheesy graphics (admittedly those screens are enjoyed by my kids). I was loving it.  

We had a great time. I'm sad to see it go but so happy we got to use it on its last night of use. 


These boys

The other day we went to Target. My kidlets love Target, as do I. They specifically love the red orbs and circles at the front of the store. This particular visit, Oliver requested that we take a photo of him with the Target decor to put on a birthday card for Ansel (the kid's two now!!). This is the stance he came up with. I was loving it. Where does he come up with this stuff?

Ansel had to get in on the action too. He has yet to learn the put-hand-up-to-chin stance, but all in due time. Look at that smile!

Gotta love kids' creativity and sense of fun.  Reminds me of the many hours I spent playing in, around, and under the clothing racks with my siblings at the department store.