Spring Break 2017

Last Monday we headed down to Indy right after lunch.  Andrew drove while the kids and I slept during our designated nap time.  We arrived at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum just as the main crowd was heading out.  We took a quick run down the Willy Wonka Chocolate slide before heading into the Circus exhibit.

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Mom, Christine and I spent most of our time juggling.  I have faint memories of my mom teaching me to juggle when Derick and I were young. We had lots of fun brushing up on a rusty, underdeveloped skill.

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We also all tried the family ladder.  I was able to hold up Mom and Christine AND move them in and out a few times will complete control.  My arms were sore the rest of our trip!  Andrew and Dad also performed amazing feats of strength.

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Emily and Nathan were a bit overwhelmed by all the commotion.  Eventually Emily did settle in a try a few things.

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We went next to the astronaut exhibit, which was a highlight for all of us.  We saw a short movie about the Liberty Bell and the first trip to and from space.  I now am adding space exploration history to my list of things to read about soon.

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Nathan loved the movie and Emily was a bit scared.

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The last few minutes were spent at the train exhibits.  Nathan LOVES trains, with his whole body and soul it seems.  He got so excited finding and watching them. Emily joined in eventually and then we went and rode the big train and played with the trains.

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Monday night finished with dinner and struggling to get the kids to go to bed for a couple of hours.

Tuesday morning we had a slow start. After breakfast we walked across the street to go to Kohls for a quick shopping trip.  We went to the Indy Art Museum at 11 and spent four hours there.  The majority of the exhibits covered periods of art I have never heard of.

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The kids did pretty well, but after two hours we found the children’s space.  Nathan’s favorites were building with blocks and playing with the huge light bright.  Emily’s favorites were playing with the iPad, taping and drawing at the art table, and playing with magnetic tiles with Aunt Christine.

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We stayed with the kids in shifts.  Andrew and I went off to explore a design exhibit while the kids stayed with the grandparents.  The question at the beginning is the premise of a graduate class Andrew recently took.

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Around 3pm we realized we hadn’t eaten lunch.  We brought in our packed meal and had a picnic in the empty museum cafe.  We all played for awhile with the little cars I made at the kids art center.

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Nathan was so tired.

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That evening we had pizza for dinner and then my dad, mom, and Christine went to a trampoline place.  Our little family played at the hotel, indulged in an episode of fixer upper, and went to bed.

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In the morning I worked out with my dad before the kids woke up and then we all went to get breakfast.  We all packed up and cleaned up our rooms and then played a harry potter deck building game until we had to check out at noon.  My parents graciously took Andrew to the airport on their way back to Iowa and I headed home with the kids.

A brief but wonderful trip!

Thank you Mom, Christine, and Andrew for sharing your photos!

And Then It’s Spring

Last week we spent the first half of the week in Indianapolis for spring break.  The second half Andrew was in Dallas, TX for a conference and I was at home with the kids.  We picked him up late Saturday night.  We’ve spent the last few days catching up: on sleep, housework, grocery shopping, projects, and family time.

I held the household together well, but I also know by now I’m not two people.  It was liberating to acknowledge I was going to do our daily routines during the day and go to bed with the kids at night so that I could be up with them at night by myself.  No late night projects or TV show watching. This strategy helped me make it until the end, as Nathan was up for prolonged periods of times most nights.

And some wonderful neighbors who also have grad school husbands, one who was gone the same time as Andrew and another who left today. There was a treat exchange with one friend late at night after the kids finally settled down (for a few hours at least).  There was hanging out at houses.  Shared meals and packaged leftovers.  Conversation.  We all kept going together.

Once Andrew got home though, I’ve crashed. Physically, mentally, emotionally.  After two days I think I’m starting to climb towards the top of the hole.

The kids and I went out in a rainstorm today after the two rounds of hail had passed. I opened the back door to bring in a few pieces of hail for them to look at.  Nathan used all his strength to try and escape, so we suited up.  I didn’t realize how incredibly muddy we all would get.  Both kids loved splashing and stomping in the puddles and mud. Friends soon joined us and everyone was covered in mud before long.

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After dinner we went to Dairy Queen for family home evening and got free ice cream cones.  Andrew gave a lesson about working together as a team to keep the peace in our home.  We used a napkin to keep his cell phone standing as long as we all held a corner.  If one of us let go the phone fell down, just like each of us is a vital part of keeping the peace.

Nathan was rather unsure about the ice cream. It was too cold for him.  The first time he pulled away really upset.  He tried a number of times to eat it, seeing how much we all were enjoying it.  I don’t think it grew on him.

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Uplifting inspiration for the week: “If ye had known me” and “Come to Zion! Come to Zion!

Nathan’s Words

Nathan went from yelling/screaming for all his forms of communication to talking and signing in the last few weeks! First he learned to sign “more”, with his pointer finger sticking out and making a two syllable sound.  This sound and sign are also used to say “help”.  Usually he starts with a scream, abruptly stops, and then gives his two syllable sound and sign.  Once we repeat what he wants, “You want more raisins Nathan?” or “Did you need help picking up your spoon?”  he scrunches up his face and gives a little victory laugh.

A few weeks ago he was big on “uh-oh”.  He would throw something on the ground and then say, “uh-oh” and laugh with Emily about it.

He wiggles his fingers and says tickle, “duck-a duck-a duck-a”.

Last week at church he learned the sign for apple.  He wiggles his fist by his forehead.  He also used it later in the week for orange.  The funny thing about this sign is that he REFUSES to let Andrew see him do it.

Outside at the playground this week he saw his friend run out of the house and said, “Kay Kay” for Katie.  That is the first name he attempted to say, and the first time I’ve heard him make the “k” sound.

Nathan loves the little playground outside our house.  Swinging, sliding, climbing, bouncing on the teeter totter, and playing in the sand all are wins for him.  If he wants to get on the swing or bouncer he alerts me with his two syllable noise and signs “help” and then shows extreme excitement that I understood.

When he was sitting on the teeter totter on Thursday he saw a car drive up.  Emily and I signed “car” and he joined right in, bumping his two fists together (a perfect “more”, but he definitely means car).  He’s been using that sign ever since.  He loves looking out the window and telling us car. I was also surprised he saw toy cars at church and signed car.

He consistently asks for water by pointing to the shelf where his sippy cups are and makes noises until we say, “Oh do you want more water Nathan?” and then he gets super excited.  The last few days he has adamantly refused sippy cups and only wants a regular one. Unfortunately he only wants it because he knows we won’t take the lid off his sippy cup and he really wants to play with the water.  I indulge probably twice a day.

His absolute favorite thing to do of all time right now is to draw/write.  He specifically asks for a pen the moment he wakes up in the morning.  He has sat at the table with me for an hour and forty five minutes completely content to write the entire time.  He loves he when we trace his hand and has been trying it himself, but he detests getting pen on his fingers and holds it up to us to clean off.  Once when I marked pen on his finger he kept pulling his hand away any time I came close with the pen again.  Right now he spends a lot of time making circles.

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A Little Fairy

Emily pulled a long yellow ribbon out of a drawer earlier this week.  It was used as a leash for her balloon dog.  Then for waving in the air as she danced.

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At some point along the way the end of the ribbon began to unravel.  We were all amazed at how many strands of thread make up a small ribbon.  We were also pleasantly surprised to meet a little fairy that came out of it.  We’ve been dropping it from great heights, watching it slowly drift down and trying to catch it.

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This simple playing has been a huge reassurance for my nerves (most often exhaustion induced).  I stress about how we will fill long, empty days.  We rarely spend an entire day inside just the three of us.  But this week it happened – Indiana wind! – and even though we had our typical rough patches, I felt a sense of magic and excitement.  We can slow down and  enjoy each other.

We’ve made one step along my path of embracing slow together.

Rearranging Bookcases

This weekend we did some rearranging of books.  This is part of a larger project to rearrange bedrooms and help provide everyone in our family with what they need.  First we pulled out our small bookcase into the hallway and filled it with the children’s books.

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Emily and Nathan immediately took to their space.  The rug is laid out at the top of the stairs in front of the bookcase, making a really cozy reading spot.  We read scriptures here and during rest and read time, Emily will come out and read on the rug sometimes.

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I also quickly realized that I would have to concede control of this shelf.  I’m hoping the joy of taking off books in droves will fade over time.

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We took all of the floating shelves out of the kids room and installed them in ours.  Andrew kindly spent Saturday afternoon putting them up and then I filled them.  I love love love not stepping on and around piles of binders and books that were previously on our floor OR reclaiming books from the kids room that I rather they didn’t play with.

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Accepting the Assignment

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A few weeks ago I listened to President Nelson’s devotional to young adults.  I was cleaning the kitchen and felt uplifted and then continued on.  Last week I stumbled across a blog post on lds.org from President Nelson discussing what he learned from studying the Saviors life in the scriptures.  That’s when a vague recollection about an assignment surfaced.  A highly specific assignment actually.

“I challenged those watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by taking time each week to:

  • Study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament.
  • Study His laws as recorded in the New Testament.
  • Study His doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
  • Study His words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.”

I spent a few days debating whether now was a good time to undertake such a task.  It isn’t, not really.  But it boils down to obedience, hope, and trust. And having a plan.  I felt really overwhelmed until I saw President Nelson’s picture of his print out of the Topical Guide.  I thought that was a brilliant idea.

Yesterday morning I copied all of the topical guide references onto a google doc to print it out.  83 pages later and I realized I’d have to spend a bit of time formatting the list.  Here is the final copy of the topical guide references for anyone that wants to print it out (32 pages, I printed double sided).  I took out all the “see also” references as almost all of them are included.  The one’s that were left out were clearly tangental, but I figured I could turn to the actual topical guide and look it up if I wanted to study it further.

After my initial study last night and this morning I am feeling so grateful for this assignment. I hope you’ll join me (or let me join you!) and share what you are learning along the way too.

Jesus Christ Topical Guide Print Out

Project: Hand Carved Spoon and Andrew’s Towel Rack

I long for us to have our own wood shop, or at least a garage with a few tools.  I was feeling particularly bummed about our situation when I realized it was completely outside of my control.  So I gave it up and started looking a tiny bit into hand carving.  As in I watched one five minute youtube video.

I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind so I dug my old pocket knife out of the bottom of a storage bin.  While the kids played at the playground I grabbed a stick and started whittling.  It was pretty small but I figured my knife was sharp enough for an actual project.

Two weeks ago on a beautiful Saturday morning we biked to the Celery Bog as a family.  I went on the hunt for some thick, dry, sturdy branches. Emily and I took off on a mother daughter run while Andrew and Nathan stayed back to play in the dirt.  When Emily and I found a branch that was taller than myself we carried it back to the boys and Andrew helped me break it down to fit into the bike trailer.

I spent five days on the playground carving my spoon and made the finishing touches on my date with Andrew last week. Saturday I spent an hour sanding and Emily helped me apply the wood polish.  It is beautiful.  It was going to be a toy for the kids to play with, but I have to make some more before I can let this thing off the shelf.  I just love looking at it.  And feeling how smooth it is.

I’m hooked on carving.  I’m excited for warm weather and more days for the kids to play outside!

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I mentioned to Andrew a little while ago that I was trying to figure out a inexpensive way to make a towel rack for our bathroom.  It took him all of 30 seconds to draw up some beautiful plans based on a recent video he had seen.  He grabbed some scrap wood and quickly made this ingenious option on campus.

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Each hook rests at an angle on the board and comes in and out for lots of rearrangeable options.  This morning Andrew had the kids help him install it on the wall.  We are thrilled to have an official place for the kids towels!

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Learning in the Waiting

It was six months of waiting before we found out baby jackson one would be joining our family.  At the beginning of the waiting we had an early miscarriage.  I was devastated, depressed, despondent.  I fell into a routine: Andrew left Provo at 5am for his 2.5 hour bus/bike commute to Sandy to teach.  I got up shortly after to go running. I ran longer and harder than my body could handle so that I would be too tired to think or feel the rest of the day.

Over and over, Andrew pulled me off the floor and I slowly learned that good things keep coming.  Then then waiting ended and Emily was on her way.

It was eight months of waiting before we found out baby jackson two would be joining our family.  I was determined to be more patient, but the familiar emotions quickly bubbled up.  I tried to hold it together during the day, but I spent sleepless night crying and pleading with God for another baby.  I thought that once we had one child the waiting would be easier.  I was so wrong – it was harder.  I watched my childhood dreams of large family with kids 18months-2 years apart slipping away.  I saw every month as a set back.  Not only were we not having another child, but Emily wasn’t having a best friend and playmate.

The begging, pleading, and crying continued until the day we found out Nathan was on his way.  I was overwhelmingly grateful and joyful.  I thought it was nice the kids were only going to be 25 months apart, my dream not actually shattered.  I quickly learned that the painfully developed gratitude would carry me through a physically difficult pregnancy.  The physically difficult pregnancy developed my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in deep and meaningful ways.  This relationship with God and my trust in the Savior is what carried me through the bouts of c. diff and long road to recovery after Nathan was born.

The trial prepared me for another trial which prepared me for another trial which truly changed me and our family. I have a growing trust in God that “he will guide my future, as he has the past.”

It is nine months (and counting) of waiting for baby jackson three.  This has been a humbling and instructive period of my life. Some questions that have been festering in my heart the last few years were answered early on in the waiting:

Am I going against God’s will for wanting a baby if he isn’t sending one to our family? Do I have to give up my desire to align my will with his?  The answer came in a surprising place, “Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings“, an excellent book about emotional coaching.  In talking about the parent/child relationship Dr. Laura Markham said something like: The goal is to have your relationship strong enough that the child cares more about his relationship with you than in doing what he wants.

My focus was on doing what I wanted, not on my relationship with God.  I also realized that my feelings had no moral value assigned to them, no right or wrong.  They were just feelings and desires.  They key was for me to feel them, tell God about them, and then move forward focusing on our relationship, not staying stuck in the feelings.

If the answer is no should we stop trying or else he will send us a child and we really weren’t supposed to have one?  I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying to come up with this one.  A story from “Glimpses into the Heart and Life of Marjorie Pay Hinkley” helped to assuage my fears.  For years the church had been trying to preach the gospel in Greece without success.  The prophet joined other church officials with the goal of finally having the church welcomed in.  Sister Hinkley was convinced this would be the moment, but at the end of the day was discouraged when the answer was still no.  When talking with the prophet she asked:

“Aren’t you discouraged?…President Lee replied, “No, I am not discouraged. All this means is that it is not yet the Lord’s time to open the work in Greece.” Then he went on to explain that they had to keep trying, so that when the Lord’s time had come to open the work, we would be there knocking on the door. (p. 22-23)”

With righteous desires, keep knocking so that you are right there when God opens the door.

I’ve also learned this gem about patience from Simplicity Parenting. “Anticipating strengthens will and sense of self.  Tremendous power can develop through waiting.”  If it is good enough for the children it is good enough for me.

With all these little inspirational gems I still found myself anxious about the timing of our children.  I also felt a little pang with every baby announcement – someone else living my dream, again.  A few months ago received this gentle correction as these words came to my mind: stop kicking against the pricks.

I’ve been doing some soul searching.  I realized that some of my pain was coming from comparison and social expectations.  I don’t have to feel sad/depressed/anxious/left out just because those feelings are talked about by those who struggle with having children or are mentioned in sensitivity on social media.  That doesn’t mean I don’t or shouldn’t experience those feelings – but I don’t have to buy into a stigma and stay in that low place.

I also needed to just let go. Let go of my dream.  Let go of comparison.  Let go of the anxious feelings.  Let go of things outside of my control.

I found great instruction in President Monson’s counsel: “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude” (Living the Abundant Life).  I’ve been working on adjusting the sails.

In one of the many conversations Andrew and I had, we discussed the principle that we can’t mess up God’s plan for our family. We need to trust him completely in all areas of our lives, but especially this one right now.  I need to believe, and I’m finally starting to truly feel, that his plan is greater than ours.  That his plan is and will be absolutely perfect for us.

Oh it is so liberating to turn things over to God.  Now I get to focus on my circle of influence.  Things that I truly can impact and change.  Everything else I can let go.  I don’t need to spend my time and energy fretting about things that I have no control over.

I love this recent blog post, You’re Not Messing Up God’s Plan for You.  What is God’s plan?  “A journey of joyful discovery that begins where I am.”

This is where I am.  A little more patient.  A little more trusting.  A little more willing to surrender my will and dreams to God’s will and plans.  A little more curious about the adventure that awaits each day.  A little more hopeful.  A little more grateful for the trials that have led me down this path of learning.  A little more excited about the joyful discovery within daily life.

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Moments

Last Friday I went on a early morning run by myself through some nearby trails.  The tempreture was ideal and the sunrise so perfect I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures as I went. 2017-02-24 07.38.53

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Nathan is starting to be more adventurous at the park.  Last week he began walking outside without holding my hand – just some of the time – which is so exciting.  He has the biggest smile on his face with every step.  I love when walking is the source of joy.  He even went up and down a ramp by himself, then pivot turned and did it again.  I took the kids to happy hollow last week to meet some friends.  I love seeing them play together.

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Andrew cut my hair!  He’s never seen a haircut so he watched a few youtube videos before getting started.  We had to have an extra emergency youtube watching session halfway through when we realized things were heading in a scary direction.  He pulled through will patience and diligence.  It took me a week to straighten my hair to see how it really looks (blessing of curly hair). A few touch up snips later and I have a respectable haircut with extra money in the bank!

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Emily and Nathan took paintbrushes and water from a water bottle one morning and went about painting the house while I rode the exercise bike.  It started out with painting the trampoline, followed by our metal doors.  Then things went downhill and ended with me wrestling supplies from tiny hands – not my greatest parenting moment.  But the initial 20 minutes of play was brilliant.

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Emily made herself a crown one morning and then asked me to help tie it to her head.  It is so fun to see the emergence of ideas and making things on her own.

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She also figured out how to jump, dive, slide across the curvy board.  The use of these boards never ceases to amaze me.

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While the preschoolers were at Joy School it was my turn to watch the younger crowd a few weeks ago.  I love teaching the 3 year olds, but it was so fun to watch the 15-20 month olds.  As second children, they were all thrilled to have free use of the toys.  Nathan initiated snack time and they all quickly gathered at the table.  When they finished the first round of snacks they put their plates in the sink and then asked for seconds.  I love seeing the execution of family systems that weren’t in place with our first kids.

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Another day I had just these two.  They sat right down on the trampoline and took care of their babies together.  Melt my heart.

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Andrew recently found out he has been accepted as a 21st Century Scholar, which is a big deal in the Technology Education field.  We took the kids out for a quick round of head shots that he needed to submit with his acceptance. Nathan wasn’t pleased with being left to stand by the tree while I took pictures.

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When I lay out  a blanket Emily and Nathan flock to it, roll around and laugh like crazy.

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We ran out of chocolate chips about a month ago, so Emily replaced her treat with frozen corn and pepperoni.  She gets all set up while I put Nathan down for a nap.

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The kids figured out that our teepee makes a fantastic swinging jungle gym.  It worked as long as I was holding onto it to keep everything steady.  Emily hopped on while I was talking with a friend and the teepee collapsed entirely, leaving Emily, Nathan, and our friend all sobbing uncontrollably at the loss of their new toy.  The next day Andrew took to fixing and strengthening the set up so it would be available for more winter entertainment.

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I can’t seem to make enough of this pasta salad.  We each eat 3-4 helpings every time and it is gone without leftovers.

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Emily’s most requested hairstyle since visiting my family at Christmas is a french braid.  I have been diligently trying to improve my french braiding skills. It is a work in progress.

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Last week for family home evening we had a lesson about repentance and forgiveness.  Andrew told a little story about someone making bad choices and put drops of food coloring in a jar of water. Then he told the kids about about how to repent by saying sorry and praying and poured bleach into water. The water became clean again, just as we can be clean again.  Nathan was super excited about the water in the jars, and Emily stayed engaged.

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We had our first cinnamon roll Sunday yesterday! We started cinnamon roll Sunday’s in the Moose household when I was around the age of 12, and it is a tradition that was fun to share with my kids.  We used sourdough with date paste, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts and the frosting was made from an orange, cashews, coconut oil, and a little honey.  They were amazing – the perfect amount of sweetness, filling, and they tasted like cinnamon rolls should.

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I couldn’t find the watercolors when Emily really wanted to paint.  I ended up putting some tumeric in a bit of water.  It worked perfectly.

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Nathan is officially walking and picking up speed.  He loves to walk around carrying books.  I love how happy he is.  This is such a fun stage of life.

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Our fridge was overflowing this week so the oranges stayed on the floor.  Nathan was convinced we had a bag full of balls and was desperately trying to dump them out.  Now he knows they are oranges and most of them have a few bite marks in them.

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Nathan learned how to put olives on his finger from Emily.  Now the two of them can go through a whole can in a matter of moments, filling up their fingers and eating them off.

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Nathan officially stopped nursing when I was sick two weeks ago and couldn’t put him to bed.  This weekend we tried leaving the kids with some friends for dinner and having them put them to bed so we could go on a date.  We went to Panera, worked in the shop on a few wood projects, and finished with a jazz and big band concert on campus.  The kids had zero problems and we had a fabulous time.  This is the first time we have been able to leave before tucking the kids in since Emily was born and it was a nice break.

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Aveya

I loved taking pictures of sweet Aveya and spending time with the Kershaw family this morning.  It is a wonderful privilege to capture a family as they are in the beginning phase of welcoming a new baby.

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