Friday, July 30, 2010

Sunday Walk (Jordan River Parkway, Lehi, UT)

This one is giving me fits lately. Who knew that 3 years old would bring on the diva in her? This is so different from parenting little boys. One moment, she is sweetness itself, the next . . . and yet, even now when I look at this picture, my heart melts to butter and I want to run in and wake her up to hug her.

This one cracks me up all the time. He really is so funny. And sometimes it is so hard to be him: the third boy, the middle child, half the time grouped with the older kids, others he is stuck with the "babies". I really want and need to show him the attention he deserves and craves. Working on that.

This one is gobbling down books and building new creations with Legos and growing so tall this summer that I have to do a double-take sometimes at my little boy. Today he took every chance he got to tell me all about Robinson Crusoe. I love when he has a light in his eyes and excitement in his voice.

This one is careening toward his teenage years. He is so bright, so quick, and is so devastated when things do not go according to plan. I wonder how that will be coupled with the angst of being 13 or 15 years old. Why, oh, why, do they have to grow up?

This shot of him walking alone, ahead of the rest of us, reminds me that this experience of having all my ducks under our roof is temporary. Too soon, he'll break free, and the others will follow. And it makes me sad and grateful at the same time. Grateful that we've been given the gift of homeschooling and more time together as a family. It will all be over too soon, and they'll just come home to visit and have lives that don't revolve around our little home. And I know that I will miss them dreadfully then.

This one is the icing on our cake. She is perfect. And although I know she'll outgrow her perfection, I adore her just the same. We all do. Our kids may not always love having a preschooler in the house (who messes with their stuff or teases them incessantly,) but they always want a baby.

This one is one of the greatest blessings in my life. He is so constant, so loyal, so determined to do right. I am so grateful for a righteous, hardworking husband who loves me and our family. Men like him don't come along every day.

I am so blessed.

Post edit: By the way, I apologize if you see an ad with a burly man threatening your at risk teens below. I am working on getting Google AdSense to remove it. If they can't do that, I'll just pull advertising with them. It does not reflect the tone of my blog and is upsetting to me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

S'more, Please!

Have you seen these enormous marshmallows? Until our recent trip, I had heard tell of them, but believed them to be an urban legend spread by sugar fiends.

Well, they are not fictional. And they make amazing, HUGE, and might I say, sticky, s'mores!

Just another magical moment from our trip to Utah. (The little girl getting sticky with Bronwen is her second-cousin(ish), Macy. You can read her mom's blog here.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Fresh Perspective

In the spirit of not being such a control freak and letting my children learn how to express themselves and explore the world around them, I let Kimball take over my camera a few times on our recent road trip. (Sadly, I do have to make the conscious choice to not be a control freak!) Here are some of his shots:

For the pictures of the temple, he laid down on the ground! People were walking around him and chuckling at the young photographer, willing to do whatever it took for the right shot:)

Not bad for a 10 year old. I should let him take over more often.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Strengthening Our Family

Our family has adopted a family theme, taken from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. We say it before our family prayer each morning and night, to remind us of our goals in building a stronger, happier family.
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
Strengthening our marriage and family is a constant desire of Jared's and mine. We know that it will bring greater joy into our lives than acquiring beautiful or luxurious things, than gaining the praise and acclaim of the world, and than visiting resorts or other such fabulous and expensive vacations. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these pursuits, but we know that if we choose to focus our energy and resources on having those things, we will be turning our focus away from the things that bring real joy.

We also believe that family relationships can endure into the eternities; thus, the investment we make in our family will not only bless us in this life, but also in the next.

The motivating factor for our recent road trip was a family reunion for my MIL's side of the family. We gathered together for a variety of "wholesome recreational activities" over the course of a few days, including a breakfast in the park, a trip to Temple Square, the baptism of my niece, dinner out, the children's gardens at Thanksgiving Point, and a few World Cup matches on TV.

Jared (only half-jokingly) corrects me whenever I refer to such trips as "vacations," that visiting family is never a vacation. Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, he tells me. Or at least seeing an exciting new place. Okay, a family reunion may not qualify under that definition. There is lot of work involved in gathering with so many people. There is patience required when you gather multiple family units together, when your kids (and everyone else's) are out of routine and sleep deprived, and when you try to get a big group to show up on time for anything-- even food. But the rewards are great. Some of my favorite moments of the reunion:

  • Watching all the cousins singing together at Emma's baptism.
  • Hearing Jared's younger cousins talking Star Wars with my boys-- which triggered Kimball announcing, "Teenage second-cousins are COOL!"
  • Shooting off fireworks on July 3rd with all the kids chanting and cheering together, interspersed with singing patriotic hymns.
  • Visiting the children's exhibit at the Church History Museum. The children had a great time exploring while many of the adults caught up after being apart for years.
  • Having my children be so sad when it was all over. This may seem like a strange favorite, but I am delighted that they love their extended family so much. That was the point of it all, wasn't it?
Some day we'd love to go on a family reunion cruise or spend our vacation exploring the ruins of ancient Rome, but I am pleased that our family can gather with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to make memories and forge relationships that will last forever.

What are some things that you do in your family to make it stronger and happier? And what are some wholesome recreational activities that your family enjoys together?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Virtual Friends Become Reality

If you've ever read Sonja's blog, The Wonder Years, you might wonder if her life is really as idyllic and magical as her poetic words and stunning photos convey.

It is.
Sonja and I discovered that we were kindred spirits through blogging over two years ago. We share a love of motherhood, of learning and teaching our children, of the Savior, of reading, and a desire to be better for our families. On this trip through Utah, I finally got to meet Sonja and her family. It was surreal to be entering their home and feel like I was seeing old friends. I knew the kids well, but they didn't know me at all!

Sonja and I fell into comfortable chatting immediately and the kids became fast friends in a home that clearly welcomed them to be children.

You may remember that I have been ogling The Sweet Tooth Fairy bakery from afar for ages, and when I found that there was a new one on the way to Sonja's, I decided it was the perfect excuse to try their cupcakes.
The most wonderful thing about the afternoon was the fact that it felt just the way she conveys it. Nothing fancy or posh. Lots of love, learning, and laughter. It just felt like a happy place to live and be. And I really, really, really want to be her next door neighbor.

The time went by too quickly and soon it was time to say good-bye. Anna and Bronwen exchanged love gifts as if they were life-long BFFs.

I found myself tearing up a little as we drove away, like I used to when I left my sister's or mom's house knowing I wouldn't see them again for a long time. I knew it was silly, and yet you cannot convince me that our friendship, although more virtual than face-t0-face, is anything but real.

Thank you, Sonja, for your example to me of a wonderful mother. I want my home to feel like yours does and pray that my children will be as happy and comfortable in their own skin as yours clearly are.

I'm grateful that if we can't be next-door neighbors, I can still be touched by your life in the virtual world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer's Best

Tomatoes from the garden have got to be in my summer top ten.

This morning, this is what I harvested from our jungle-like tomato garden. There are tons of yellow and orange tomatoes just waiting to turn red in the next couple of days. It's a good thing that I kept garden tomatoes in mind when I planned this week's menu. If you want to see what's for dinner tonight, or read a post I wrote two years ago about the nurturing power of food and the importance of family dinner, go here.

Just got home from a 2 week road trip. I have lots of posts churning around in my mind and filling up my camera card, so stay tuned for a full report of all the people and things we saw.