Monday, November 29, 2010

All He Wants for Christmas

In front of the tree at Nanny's house

The 2nd bottom tooth is finally out. I kept asking him if I could wiggle it for him a little more all weekend long but he usually didn't want me anywhere near it. Last night I told him I would pay him a dollar if he pulled it out right then and there. He agreed right away, made me do it for him and out it came. That little Bean sure loves to earn an easy buck.
I love his awesome hair in this pic
(thanks to his snow hat while helping Joseph shovel earlier in the day.)

My cute (hyper) little man.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful Weekend



Over the past few days I am especially grateful for:

--a delicious feast with my hubby and his amazing family
--hearing what everyone is most thankful for this year
--a safe drive to my parents' cabin on Thanksgiving eve


--hanging with my big brother and sister (and their families)
--this fun cousin for Caroline (who else could teach her to pose just so and hand down all her darling outfits?)

--my adventurous children


--their playful father

--the gorgeous mountains
--my parents snuggling and entertaining my kids while we stayed at the cabin

--decorating our home for Christmas


--a special date night with Caroline (and Cec and Maddie and my mom and dad) to see the Rockettes' Christmas Show


--finally, a lazy afternoon today for painting my little lady's nails


It was a busy weekend full of family bonding and the Christmas spirit--I loved it. Cares and I got home from our date late last night and then I stayed up way too late working on my talk for sacrament meeting today (but better to be prepared!) Joseph spoke too and our topic was gratitude--perfect for Thanksgiving weekend. I was excited to share on such an open and uplifting topic even though it's always daunting to speak in front of the whole ward. Ruth Ann and Neil braved the snowy roads and joined us at church to sit with our kids as we spoke. I swear my kids have never been so reverent! I am so thankful for their help today and that they raised my husband to love his family and the gospel. He is such a good man (and smart too. You should have heard his talk today).

I feel so blessed.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet Sisters


These two have been catching my heart lately. I love to see them sitting, snuggling, or giggling and playing together--sounds that bring a smile to my face every time I hear them. Do my girls realize how lucky they are to be sisters? One day, they will share a room, and then secrets about boys they have crushes on. But I love that they have each other right now too--and that Livs squeals with delight each time we pick Cares up from school, and that Cares sweetly shares her belongings (even prized cuddly animals) with her eager little sis.


I am grateful for my daughters. I simply love to see them love each other.



Monday, November 22, 2010

First Big Snow

We woke up to a winter wonderland Sunday morning. Joseph shoveled half of the driveway before his early morning meetings and got to the rest in the late afternoon--when we could all go out and help/play a little.

The snowman with a creepy face
and Mt. Everest/Eiffel Tower in the background

I came out to help too--in purple tights no less!

It was Olivia's inaugural snow playing (last year she just seemed so small--and couldn't walk!) She donned her mittens for all of 5 minutes and then got really mad about them and refused to wear anything. And she lasted quite a while out there--mostly trudging all around and eating snow. I think toddlers all bundled up are just too cute:


video


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Double Date

Joseph and I feel totally spoiled right now. My parents graciously took our kids for a sleepover at the cabin last night so we could 1) see Harry Potter (courtesy of our insurance company--thank you Allstate!) and 2) do sealings at the temple this morning.


We liked the movie and remembered how much we loved those books and the whole story-line in general. I was a little surprised by the brief Harry and Hermione kissing scene (a vision of Ron's created by dark magic)--purely because they're (ahem) topless in it. Made me a little uncomfortable--especially when I had 2 young teenage girls on my right who felt totally awkward about it too. Did they really need that moment in the movie? I think not.

Fitting in a perfectly quiet night of sleep in our own bed felt so decadent last night. Left us feeling totally rested and ready for the temple this morning. We met up with some ward friends to do sealings. About half-way through, a random couple joined us. When it was their turn at the altar the sealer decided to share some stories with us. Next thing we knew, the poor guy kneeling up with his wife started teetering and sinking, and we had to make a group effort to get him sitting down and coherent again. He had all but fainted up there, but made a steady recovery. Quite an exciting day at the temple!

It was so lovely to have so much couple time with my husband this weekend and we feel really lucky to have such amazing help close by--thank you mom and dad!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grateful

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life...How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man."

President Joseph F. Smith as quoted by President Monson (in this talk)

I love this month and the opportunity it gives us to be thankful and live with more gratitude. There is very little place for worry or fear or sorrow when I think of the tremendous blessings and abundance of love in my life. It may seem that life is pretty perfect for me, but I have my own shadows and struggles which are hard to handle at times. And my only real solace has come because of my Savior, His atonement and unwavering love for me. These alone are blessings beyond measure, but I know that because He loves me, He blesses me with so much even when He cannot fix all woes or change all that I ask Him too.

In the last few months I have truly seen His hand in my life. As I have fasted and prayed for 3 different family members facing very serious physical ailments, my prayers have been answered. And even though I was among so very many in each situation pleading with heaven for help and healing, the personal prayers from my mouth and my heart were heard--and answered quickly and easily so that all are healthy and well.

I find it amazing (and humbling) that it takes 3 near miracles in a row for me to see the hand of God in my life--to wake me up to the knowledge that He is listening and answering many of my prayers all the time. I have prayed for healthy babies when I am pregnant, for good friends for my children, for inspiration when teaching the Young Women, for Olivia to have a good rest after a bad night, for my husband to return safely to us each night after work. These prayers have been answered time and time again and yet, how often do I take them for granted? How often do I take enough time at the end of the day to see all that is good and beautiful in my life and then convey that gratitude as I pray? I need to remember all the small and simple blessings in my life along with the great and miraculous ones.

And those blessings I still need (even the ones I have been pleading for for years) will continue to be part of my daily prayers--I realize that they're helping me develop more faith and teaching me about trusting in the Lord. But they're also helping me recognize more and more the profound love and true happiness I feel right now. For these I am eternally indebted.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November Tri


Technically, our race started at 9:00 am--but in reality, the three of us finally got a turn in the pool right around 10:00 am. We were right in the middle of the sprint group of about 350 racers but waiting for 150 people to swim laps before my turn made me crazy. I hate waiting--and it made the rushed, group start of the lake swim in August's tri sound quite appealing.

Side note: while waiting in line we just happened to line up directly behind a guy Joseph knew from his mission. So random--we didn't know a single other soul in the whole race except for that guy--one of Joe's zone leaders down in Brazil. Oh, and he is a dang good racer--winning his age division and smoking us on the course (he did just qualify for the Boston Marathon so he is used to running 7 minute miles. No big deal...)

Back to the race--it was finally time to hit the water and I really enjoyed the pool swim once I was finally racing. There's a lot to be said for clear, clean water at the perfect temp. We only swam 400 meters which flew right by and then it was outside to T1. And I was suddenly freezing cold. Joseph was mostly changed and ready to head out on his bike but I made him give up 20 seconds and hold my towel for me while I pulled my swim bottoms off and pulled on dry tri-shorts. Then off he went while I was still trying to get wet layers off and warm, dry layers on. I really wish there had been a way to get my wet sports bra off because it was damp and v. cold the rest of the race. Did I mention that I was cold?! My transition was really slow--just over 4 minutes but there was so much to do. I was even on my period again (why does it always overlap with these races?) which threw a whole new loop into things. I really hated the idea of anything feeling soggy after my swim so once that was done, I opted for nothing (hey--my shorts were black!)

Onto my bike and a 5 mile loop which we had to complete twice. I ended up riding it faster the 2nd time through--it's easier when I knew what to expect. I still think riding a full course is better and definitely more fulfilling to actually travel a real distance instead of doubling back on myself again and again. I felt really good on my bike though. My hands and feet were super cold but I was working hard and enjoyed the ride.

Joseph starting out on his ride

and finishing his first 1.5 miles of the run

Joseph crossing the finish line!

And then came the 5K which felt so impossible after a long bike ride--especially with freezing, numb feet! But they warmed up quickly once I found a good pace and got my tunes going on my iPod. Again we ran a 1.5 mile loop 2 times which I enjoyed--mostly because Joseph was a good distance ahead of me and it was fun to keep passing him while he was running the back side of the loop and I was running the front side. I ended up walking a few times during the run but I kept a better pace than in my race this summer and ended up with a 33 minute run--a good time for me and 4 minutes faster than my last 5K. Again, it was so fun to have my kiddos and parents at the finish line with big cheers and big hugs. Livs tried to rip my race number off as soon as she saw me--she was not a fan and I think that when she saw me she suddenly realized I had been gone all morning and decided to be rather grumpy about it.




In the end, my total time was 1 hour and 33 mins which I am excited about. I am in no way a fast racer (in any event) but I feel like I keep pushing myself to try harder and be a little better and it feels really good. I am totally in for more of these in the future.

A moment of victory once the race was over...


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Racing Again

Early Saturday morning down in sunny (but chilly!) St George

Joseph and I did our first race together this weekend--the Turkey Triathlon at the Sand Hollow Rec Center. Mary raced with us again and her good hubby took lots of pics and cheered us on. So, I am waiting for pictures for a better post. We took this one with the iPhone pre-race when we were eager and clean, and cold. At the end, our little cheering section (our kids and my parents) rooted us on and welcomed us to the finish line with adorable posters and big smiles.


Besides my freezing, numb fingers for 2/3 of the event, it was a great race! Loved doing my 2nd triathlon--I was way less anxious about the whole thing and could enjoy the experience more. Fun. Hard, but I loved it :)

And my hubby is fast!




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Big Kid

Bentley lost his first tooth last night! We were gathered together reading stories and his little tooth was super wiggly. He let me tug on it a bit and I could almost fold it down flat on his gums--which kind of freaked him out :) Bentley said he'd just leave it alone and let it fall out on its own. But Joseph (wisely) told him he better just pull it out or it could fall out during the night and he'd swallow it right up without even knowing. 2 seconds later Beans pushed that tooth backwards more and more, and out it popped. It caught him off-guard and then some pain set in--but Cares and I were cheering and hugging him even while he was a little stunned. And then he became quite giddy and proud.

Doesn't he look cute? I love that gap in his grin:



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Slow

With the time change on Sunday and a long, lazy afternoon once we were home from church, I felt like the day would never end. We ate dinner just before 5, had all the kids bathed and in pj's by 6 and all our reading and scripture studies done by 6:30--and that's when I was thinking, "it's really only 6:30?" Livs was very tired and went off to bed while Joseph and I entertained the big kids for a while longer. I swear that extra hour made a huge difference in our day!

Of course timely Livs woke up at 6:10 am yesterday and again, the day seemed to stretch on and on. The girls and I ran some errands in the rain which they loved all decked out in their rubber boots. In the afternoon I worked on YW stuff for Wednesday night, pulled pics together for Olivia and Caroline's end-of-year books, and made pizza dough for our dinner and sugar cookie dough for our FHE.

Today, we have been home again (Cares has been to preschool and back) and I am feeling grateful for these slow, calm days. I feel like I get so much done without rushing around or feeling stressed out. I am kind of loving the Laurie Berkner song about slowing down. And love that I get to know songs like this as a mama of young ones :)

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pics of Livs that will be in her 2010 book:

snuggling Daddy at Beans' soccer game

the beautiful baby with brown and blonde eyelashes--love that about her



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life

This week I:

--cleared out and stored away everything Halloween related by the evening of November 1st. I have never been that quick before--but I was really done with all the celebrating this year once my kids had been trick-or-treating.

--met up with both of my sisters for one last playdate before little sis had to travel back home to Minnesota. It will be months before she can come out again and I'll miss her and her darling kids.

--attended parent teacher conferences and really enjoyed it. I like Bentley's teacher a lot and she adores him and is so proud of all his growth and learning--we agree on so much! Love having a first grader--they make those things pretty easy.

--made a short and simple Christmas list for each of my children. I am determined to get things squared away quickly and enjoy a December full of baking, crafting, snuggling up with my kids rather than shopping with the crowds.

--got a new entertainment center in the living room. And by "new" I mean "new to us" because it was a free hand-me-down from my parents but it's in amazing shape and fits so well in our home. Joseph and his various helpers worked quite hard to get the thing moved from my parents' house to our house today--and now my good hubby is all worn-out with some tight little (I mean, big) muscles.


--went on a family run to the park and back (last night). Bentley rode his bike and Joseph and I took turns pushing the girls in the double-jogging stroller. Once we arrived at the park we took a 20 minute break and let the kids play before heading home. We've done this a few different times this fall and it's such fun to all head out together. Cares cannot wait to get her own bike so she can ride along too. I also went for a bike ride today and kept thinking it was most likely my last outdoor ride before the weather turns--so happy we've had such mild temps the past week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

To Be a Mother

This name, this job, this daily and forever role that is motherhood can be so so hard sometimes. And then it can be so beautiful and simple, and very fulfilling, that I wonder why I ever worry and stress and plan so much. You mamas know what I mean...

Which is why I loved the following passage from this blog written a few weeks ago:

"But no matter who we are...we can all make our little piece of motherhood an "art" in it's own right. We can go about what we do in a day just as a dancer goes about a beautiful dance, with precision and grace. We can keep getting up again, after numerous failures and mistakes, and keep trying. We have the power to choose to meet our challenges in a way that will help us grow and become who God wants us to be. But on that same note, no one else will feel the rewarding heart-swell we will when a child finally makes a much prayed for breakthrough. No one else will quite understand the sweetness of an inside joke shared with a child we've cultivated with time. No one else gets to feel the same joy watching our children love each other as only siblings do, or save money as we have painstakingly tried to teach them. And those things come when we choose to make the way we mother a priority, whether we work outside the home or not, whether we live in a different culture or have different interests outside of mothering. They come when we put our heart into our mothering, no matter how different we may be. Someday, as we look back, we will marvel at the strength and rhythm we were able to develop. Because what we have willingly done with love in our hearts has become our passion. Hopefully we will see that love reflected in the eyes of our children. And that will be our reward."

Here's to being passionate about my mothering and enjoying my small babies (and then my not-so-small babies) in the process. Sounds like a recurring mantra around here but I swear the time is slipping right by me--Bentley was once a round and rolling baby boy and now I can barely fold up his long, long legs for a snuggle on my lap. It actually doesn't really work at all but I still try.





Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Photographs

October was crazy, crazy and a lot of fun. But I am ready for a little reprieve.

For now, a tiny preview of our photo shoot with the darling (and talented) Sarah Severson at Lighthouse Beach. Something about beautiful pictures of my babies...:





and these too were off into Lake Michigan in October--getting soaked in their clothes was a favorite part of that trip for them :)