"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy 6 Years To Us

Tonight as I was cleaning the kitchen I yelled to Cody from across the room (we could barely hear over the chaos of our children) "Hey, could you have imagined 6 years ago that our lives would be like this today?" He just shook his head and laughed. Lauren was climbing up into the refrigerator, Hailey was cheering her on, the sound of "Star Wars" was blasting from the surround sound, Ethan was jumping on the couch, and my shirt was covered in the days festivities. What a life we have formed in these six years and we wouldn't trade it for anything.

Cody and I met during a time when I was least looking for love. In fact, a mission was on the horizon for me and I was busy with school. George W. Bush was about to be elected president and it was fall 2000. It's amazing how one late-night study session in the library would change both our lives forever. I was in Texas, he was in Utah. We both happened to be online that night checking our email on an old college alumni-type website. That site is no longer in existence but things like Myspace and Facebook have since taken it's place.

Long story short, we began chatting and he helped me with my Spanish. He had served a mission to Chile and had an under graduate degree in Spanish. This mystery person was currently working on a masters degree in public health at the University of Utah. I was just trying to get my act together, trying to decided what in the world to major in and what to do with my life. Cody and I became regular email penpals and I looked forward to my daily messages from him. It was usually something silly like "Hey Veronica, today I'm going to tell you about my dog Maggie who I'd had since I was a kid......" We got to know each other that way. We'd send short letters back and forth about random things from our lives.

During those months we never once spoke on the phone or heard each other's voices. In fact, we had only seen one picture of each other. But during this time Cody grew to be one of my dearest friends. Sometime in February I was having boy trouble with a certain guy in my ward and I needed an objective third party point of view. Cody and I talked on the phone for the first time that night. We were instantly hooked on this new form of communication and we started talking on the phone at least once a day.

Oh there is so much I'm leaving out because it's too long to write, but between trips back and forth to see each other and enormous phone bills, we decided to jump in feet first and try out a relationship. I was 21 and he was 27. On June 1st, 2001 he flew down to Texas, helped me pack everything into my little car, and the two of set out on this adventure that has since turned into an eternal marriage, 3 kids, 2 mortgages, 2 cars, debt, heartache, tears, laughter, ups and downs, fights, and more joy than we could have ever imagined.

We were married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 1, 2002 and we have never looked back. We have had our share of pain and disappointment, but we have also been blessed in more ways than we'll ever be able to comprehend. Cody truely is my best friend and although he's by far imperfect, there's no one I would rather have by my side during this journey we call eternity. I love you Cody. Here's to another 6 years with my hand in yours!

Happy Birthday Ev

My sister, Evelyn, turned dirty thirty today! She has been my sister for exactly 28 years and 2 1/2 months. I wish we lived closer and got to hang out more. She and I are absolute night and day in most areas (except politics and religion, thank goodness!). But she really is my friend and I'm glad we're past the silly bickering that we did constantly growing up. She has three beautiful little girls and she's a good mom to them. A crazy mom, but pretty good nonetheless! Her hubby, Dewey, is serving our country in Iraq right now (Army) and will be there until early fall next year. I'm so grateful for people like him, and people like her who are willing to sacrifice so much for our great nation. Thanks Ev, for making life...ummm...interesting these last 30 years! Happy birthday and I love you! (I had to throw that last part in to make her squirm.)

My Favorite Quote

I took the kids to the park yesterday and I was taking candid pictures of them. Candid is the way to go. In my photography classes, many of our assignments consisted of candid subjects and I still do it. Kids are so pure and true in their natural state. This picture isn't the best quality (terrible camera and not the best lighting) but I like it. Ethan was sitting there loving on his sisters. I love his squinted expression because he's hugging them so tightly. And I love how Hailey is really holding onto him. This is my all time favorite quote and it fit perfectly. Oh how I cherish these kids.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Sister's Missionary Blog

While Leighann is on her mission, she has given me permission to keep her blog updated. Each week I will be posting her letters and any other significant info about her mission. I will also post pictures that she sends. If you're interested, check out her blog and see what our missionary is up to!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Fanatic Is Born

The other evening Cody was making dinner while the kids and I played outside. As he cooked he watched "The Empire Strikes Back". Cody and I are both big fans, but we're not die hards by any means. We own all of the movies but rarely watch them.

When we came inside from playing Ethan caught a glimpse of the movie. He had never seen it and he was instantly captivated. He couldn't take his eyes off the screen, and why would he? It had everything he loves- outer space, space ships, robots, swords, and bad guys. He actually has a Light Saber that lights up and makes sound but he never knew what it was.

During the last few days Ethan has watched "Star Wars" every day. It's amazing how much he already knows about the story. He can name all the names and tell you exactly what is happening. He even has a Luke Skywalker action figure that a friend gave him for his birthday this year. He never understood who he was until now, and now he never lets Luke leave his sight. Even Hailey is getting into it. She too can say "Darth Vader" and "Luke Skywalker" perfectly. I think we now have two fanatics on our hands.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ice Cream Bliss

Lauren is really getting into eating anything she can with her hands. Food usually gets plopped right in the middle of her tray and she has a great time playing with it. Some ends up in her mouth while some ends up elsewhere.

Tonight after dinner we were eating ice cream cones. I knew Lauren would want some, and since she was already filthy from the lasagna, I gave her a scoop directly on her tray. She played with it for a while, but then started throwing a hissy for some unknown reason. I thought maybe the dripped ice cream on her skin was cold. Nope, that was not it.

Finally I realized that she wanted MY ice cream cone, so I gave it to her. It was hilarious watching her play with it. She was more interested in eating the pointy part of the cone than the actual ice cream part. Once I handed it to her she was so happy. I put her directly into the bath after this and the water was disgusting after she was clean.

A Week of Visitors

This week has been a crazy but fun week. On Monday evening Amanda and her kids arrived to stay at our house for several days. She was living in our neighborhood but sadly she and her kids moved back out to California in May while she and her husband work through some problems. She came back to town to pack up some of their belongings and they were our basement dwellers for a few days.

It was so much fun having them stay with us. Our household was pure chaos during that time, but it was fun. Her boys, Canyon and Dane, are exactly Hailey and Lauren's ages (
see this past post). Who knows, maybe one day we will be inlaws.

Amanda and I have only known each other since February when we met at play group. But she and I became instant friends. It's great when you bump into people in life who you "click" with. It was great getting to know her even better this week. There were lots of late nights of talking, laughing, and movie watching. During the day we played in the back yard with Jen and the kids next door.

I really hope we will see these guys again in the furture. I have a feeling that even if we always live far apart, Amanda and I will be life long friends. Thanks for a fun week, guys!
I was bummed that I didn't take more pictures this week. Here the kids are fresh from the tub and eating candy. Yum!

The Decoy

Once again the house was a little too quiet. I was in the front room folding laundry, enjoying the peacefulness of the house. Then it dawned on me that quiet doesn't equal peace.

I darted upstairs, remebering that my make-up bag was sitting in the hall inside of a duffle bag. Hailey was no where in sight, but I saw my gold make-up bag sitting neatly where I had left it so I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I opened the kids' room and found Hailey sitting on her bed looking like this. All of my make-up was lying in front of her.

The little rascal had replaced my empty gold bag back where it belonged and made it look like a decoy. Oh she is too smart for her own good. Funny thing is that she got the make-up in all the right places on her face. I couldn't even be mad because she was so proud of herself. She instantly said "Look, Hay-wee pwetty

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lauren 10 Months

Lauren turned ten months yesterday! Holy cow, we are almost to one year! If you know me, you know I am already planning her first shin-dig. I do those up pretty big!

Oh how I love this girl. I have decided that I'd like her to be fully weaned by one year so we can maybe have another baby. I'm pretty darn infertile while I am nursing. We started the process this week and it is sad. I figure it will take a good two months to fully wean so we started now.

She has never known how to drink from a bottle (with the exception of a few bottles during the first few weeks of life, but she has since forgotten about it.) I was worried that she wouldn't know how to drink from anything other than the "tap" so we've been working on it. I think she has started to figure it out. I've been pumping milk for her during the day to drink and then I nurse her before naps and bed. On Sunday she laid on the floor drinking from a bottle and I wanted to cry! It was so foreign to me.

Some things I want to take note of...

-She is growing up and gaining independence and my heart hurts. I have enjoyed every second of her babyhood and I'm not ready for it to be over. But then again I look forward to the next phase of her life. Toddlers are loads of fun too!

-She is getting around all over the place. She doesn't do the traditional crawl on her hands and knees, but she army crawls and is very efficient at it!

-She loves to eat table food...anything that she can pick and up and feed to herself. Again, another way that she doesn't need me anymore.

-She babbles non-stop and the other day she said "Mama" although I don't think it was intentional.

-She hasn't quite figured out how to pull herself up onto things, but she loves it when I stand her up next to something so she can hold onto it. She smiles so big as if to say "Look at me!"

-She is really trying to keep up with her siblings lately and has gotten very interested in everything they do. Before long they will be the inseparable Three Amigos!

Here is some serious picture overload. She is such a ham and loves the camera and it is impossible to pick just one!

So proud and standing up.....
....then falling down!
Oh well, it didn't hurt!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What Matters Most

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately on how to be a better mom. I've always been some what of a perfectionist, but in recent years I've had to start letting it go. Anyone who comes to my house is greeted with loud children, piles of laundry, often the smell of something questionable, and lots of comotion. And the crazy thing is that I'm okay with it a lot of the time. I think I should put a sign on the door that says "Warning: A Family Lives Here".

Today I was talking to my neighbor, Jen, about this very topic. Some people think I'm insane because I am so ready to have another baby. Another person to feed, more poopy diapers to clean up, more messes, more chaos in general. But it also means one more person to bring joy into our family. One more person to love and be adored by the rest of us.

As Jen and I talked, I remembered reading this story in one of my "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. It brings tears to my eyes each time I read it. It is kind of long, but I think you will find it well worth the read. You might want to grab a tissue before you dig in.

"A Mother's Love"

When I think of Clara Harden's family, happiness is what comes to mind. The sounds of laughter always greeted my visits.

Their lifestyle was so very different from mine. Clara's mother believed nurturing the mind was more important than trivial chores. Housekeeping wasn't a high priority. With five children ranging in age from Clara, the oldest at twelve, to a two-year-old baby, this lack of order sometimes bothered me but never for long. Their home was always in some state of chaos with at least one person's life in crisis, real or imagined. But I loved being part of this boisterous bunch, with their carefree, upbeat attitude toward life.

Clara's mother was never too busy for us. She'd stop ironing to help with a cheerleading project, or switch off the vacuum cleaner and call us all to trek into the woods to gather specimens for a child's science project. You never knew what you might do when you visited there. Their lives were filled with fun and love - lots of love.

So the day the Harden children stepped off the school bus with red, swollen eyes, I knew something was desperately wrong. I rushed to Clara, pulled her aside, begging to hear what had happened but not prepared for her answer. The night before, Clara's mother had told them she had a terminal brain tumor, with only months to live. I remember that morning so well. Clara and I went behind the school building where we sobbed, holding each other, not knowing how to stop the unbelievable pain. We stayed there, sharing our grief until the bell rang for first period.

Several days passed before I visited the Harden home again. Dreading the sorrow and gloom, and filled with enormous guilt that my life was the same, I stalled until my mother convinced me that I couldn't neglect my friend and her family in their time of sadness.

So I visited. When I entered the Harden house, to my surprise and delight, I heard lively music and voices raised in animated discussion with lots of giggles and groans. Mrs. Harden sat on the sofa playing a game of Monopoly with her children gathered round. Everybody greeted me with smiles as I struggled to hide my bewilderment. This wasn't what I had expected.

Finally Clara freed herself from the game, and we went off to her room where she explained. Her mother had told them that the greatest gift they could give her would be to carry on as if nothing was amiss. She wanted her last memories to be happy, so they had agreed to try their hardest.

One day Clara's mother invited me for a special occasion. I rushed over to find her wearing a large gold turban. She explained that she'd decided to wear this instead of a wig now that her hair was falling out. She placed beads, glue, colored markers, scissors and cloth on the table, and instructed us to decorate it, while she sat like a regal maharaja. We turned the plain turban into a thing of gaudy beauty, each adding his or her own touch. Even as we squabbled over where the next bauble should be placed, I was conscious of how pale and fragile Mrs. Harden appeared. Afterwards, we had our picture taken with Clara's mother, each pointing proudly to her contribution to the turban. A fun memory to cherish, even though the unspoken fear of her leaving us wasn't far beneath the surface.

Finally the sad day arrived when Clara's mother died. In the weeks that followed, the Hardens' sorrow and pain were impossible to describe.

Then one day I arrived at school to see an animated Clara laughing, gesturing excitedly to her classmates. I heard her mother's name mentioned frequently. The old Clara was back. When I reached her side, she explained her happiness. That morning dressing her little sister for school, she'd found a funny note her mother had hidden in the child's socks. It was like having her mother back again.

That afternoon the Harden family tore their house apart hunting messages. Each new message was shared, but some went undetected. At Christmastime, when they retrieved the decorations from the attic, they found a wonderful Christmas message. In the years that followed, messages continued sporadically. One even arrived on Clara's graduation day and another on her wedding day. Her mother had entrusted the letters to friends who delivered them on each special day. Even the day Clara's first child was born, a card and poignant message arrived. Each child received these short funny notes, or letters filled with love until the last reached adulthood.

Mr. Harden remarried, and on his wedding day a friend presented him with a letter from his wife to be read to his children, in which she wished him happiness and instructed her children to envelop their new stepmother in love, because she had great faith that their father would never choose a woman who wouldn't be kind and loving to her precious children.

I've often thought of the pain Clara's mother must have experienced as she wrote these letters to her children. I also imagined the mischievous joy she felt when she hid these little notes. But through it all I've marveled at the wonderful memories she left those children, despite the pain she quietly suffered and the anguish she must have felt leaving her adored family. Those unselfish acts exemplify the greatest mother's love I've ever known.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Water Party

I think this is going to become a family tradition. The party on Saturday was a lot of fun and a ton of little kids were there. Hotdogs, cupcakes, Kool-Aid, chips, popsicles, water balloons, three pools, and a Slip 'n Slide. What more could a kid ask for? Thanks to everyone who came. I know my kids had a great time! Same time and place next year?

A lot of these pictures were taken by my friend Audrey. Thanks so much for letting me steal some! And thanks Jen for the use of your canopy, chairs, pool, backyard (we don't have a fence between us), and water hose!

Cupcake Bliss

Hailey had fun "helping" me make cupcakes for the party on Saturday. The little rascal. Good thing that 350 degree oven killed any Hailey germs!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Very Merry Un-Birthday, To You!

Attention anyone who reads this blog!!

Tomorrow, July 19th, we are having a water bash over at our house and you are invited! Ethan has been asking me for weeks when he gets to have a swimming birthday. I kept saying "Sorry Buddy, but your birthday is in February so probably never!"

Then I got the idea to have a 1/2 birthday party. No where in the parental rule book does it say that is against the rules. Since Ethan and Hailey have winter birthdays, this will likely become a summer tradition. In fact, July 19th is exactly Hailey's un-birthday!

Tomorrow we will have a few pools set up, water balloons, popsicles, the slip 'n slide, hot dogs, and cupcakes. Come one come all!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Free Summer Movies

Each week the local movie theatre here shows an older Disney movie for free. Last week I took the girls to see "Beauty and the Beast". Hailey had never seen that one and she loved it! She has talked about "Da Booty and da Beat" many times since then. Today I kidnapped Heather's girls and took them with us. Heather had her fourth baby last month and I thought she could use a break. This week they showed "The Little Mermaid" and I was as mesmorized as I was watching it when I was 10 years old.

Heather's girls are so good and sweet and we had a lot of fun taking them with us. We can't wait to hang out with them again!

The Wasps

On Monday evening before Mom and Dad got here, Ethan and Hailey were out playing and Ethan started screaming. He came running in the house and said he got stung. Sure enough, outside on the deck were tons of wasps. They got him on his shoulders and thumb. I don't know how many stings he had, but I do know it hurt like the dickens.

I immediately made up a baking soda paste and slathered it on him. Then Hailey wanted in on the action and said she hurt and needed "lotion" too. Then she made these fake painful moaning sounds. It happened as I was finishing up dinner, but I felt so bad so I let Ethan have ice cream on the couch for dinner. Then of course Hailey needed ice cream too. Funny thing how ice cream makes anything feel better. I spread out some thick blankets on the couch to catch the drips, then Ethan watched his "Transformers" cartoon DVD.

Cody headed to the store to get some wasp killer. When he got home and said he was going to kill the wasps, Ethan started crying more and said "No Dad, don't go kill them." We thought he was being ultra-sensitive and didn't want the wasps to die. Then he said "If you go outside, they might sting you too!" Aahh, it was so sweet and melted my heart.

I gave him a dose of Benadryl to relieve the swelling and withing 30 minutes he was out cold and stayed that way until 7:30 the next morning! Poor Buddy.