"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

Monday, May 24, 2010

On Turning 30

On May 15th at 9:14 p.m. (central time of course) I turned thirty years old. A lot of people have asked me if turning thirty would be hard. And in all honestly, I've been able to answer them with a big fat "No". Perhaps hitting this milestone would have been hard if I hadn't done as much in my twenties as I did. I met my husband, went to college, got married, bought a house, had four beautiful babies... They may not sound like big accomplishments to some, but I am very content with the things I've done up to this point in my life. No, I have not made huge strides to improve humanity, but I feel I'm leaving my mark. At least with children anyway. And becoming a mom is by far the biggest accomplishment I've ever done.

This year we celebrated with our (not so little and ever growing) family. The kids have been begging me for months to go to Chuck-E-Cheese. Ugh. Not on my list of favorite things to do. We have never been there as a family and I promised a few weeks ago that we could go for the next birthday someone in our family had. I didn't realize that the next birthday would be...mine! And my thirtieth on top of that. But I agreed to spend my big day at the place "where a kid can be a kid". We did have a fun time, even though Dad was feeling under the weather.

I got very spoiled by my wonderful family. I know I have said this a lot, but I have an amazing husband. He is so thoughtful and really puts his heart into things. He took the kids shopping earlier in the week (pretty much a repeat of Mother's Day) and they each picked out presents for their mama. Again, I loved each one dearly!

Hailey got me a dolphin bank, Hello Kitty lip gloss, Hello Kitty wipes, a squishy ball, and foming hand soap.

Lauren got me a fishy bank, a Caboodles box, lip gloss, and more lip gloss.

"Devin" got me two of my favorite movies on DVD- "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Blind Side".

Ethan picked out a really cool blouse that I will be able to wear once my giant nursing boobs shrink down. Everything is way too tight across the boobage area these days. I love that he picked it out himself and that it is my style!

And last but not least, Dad got me two DVDs as well. "Raising Arizona" (which we watched that night after kids were in bed and cried from laughter) and my all time favorite "The Princess Bride" (never before owned a DVD copy). And his big gift was a new video camera. Our old one died just a few weeks after Devin was born so we have very little video of him and anything since November. The camera he picked out is super bice and I have had a blast recording anything and everything!

I feel so blessed and so excited in this, my thirty first year of life. And Mom, thanks for going over your due date and suffering through almost a whole day of [natural] childbirth to get me here. I know that eight pounds and five ounces wasn't the easiest thing to expell from your body. I love you!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Devin- 7 Months Old

Dear Devin,

I can't believe that seven months have passed since the day I first held your sweet little body and heard your newborn cry. So much has happened in these months! You have brought more joy into our household and family than you will ever know. I think about how much I wanted you, long before you grew in my belly. You were meant to be mine and I am so grateful to be your mama.

These days you are into all kinds of mishchief and it is so fun! You scoot around on your belly and your back all day long. You can keep yourself entertained for a long time by rolling from one side of the room to the other, finding fun things to explore along the way. You are very efficient at scooting on your back, which is something none of your siblings ever did. Lately you have been getting up on your hands and knees like you want to crawl. You rock back and forth, but you haven't wuite figured out how to propell yourself forward. Any day now, I'm sure!

You are pretty much sitting up now. When you are in your car seat you want to be sitting up and pull your body forward. You are so strong! You like being in your high chair because it's very easy to sit up and see the world that way. You love cereal puffs on your tray, especially the sweet potato kind. You LOVE rice cereal, especially since I put a little pinch of sugar in the bowl. I can't seem to shovel it in your mouth fast enough! Sometimes if I go too slowly you pull the spoon away from me and try to feed yourself.

I am still your #1. No one can hold a candle to me and I love it. I am the first face you see when you wake up in the morning, and I am the last face you see as you fall asleep at night. You love to nurse, but you have been very distracted lately and haven't nursed as much. There is too much to see and do in the world! But boobie milk is still the only thing you want when you feel you have been wronged (usually by one of your sisters for "loving" you too hard).

You think it is really funny when I raise my voice to yell at one of your siblings. When I am mad, you laugh and laugh and laugh! Maybe because you know it's not YOU that is trouble. You also love it when people whistle songs to you, especially Daddy. You are liking him a lot more these days. When he comes home at night, you light up when he plays with you. I love it that you interact with him a lot more. Don't leave Daddy out. Believe it or not, he loves you as much as I do. You guys will be best buds before long.

I love you, my sweet Chubba Bubba. I have so much love in my heart for you, and I sometimes feel that it will explode all over the place! Thank you for giving us seven beautiful months.

All my love, Mommy

I love this kid. And he's growing up too fast.

Hailey's Bike Parade

The bike parade is one of my favorite pre-school traditions, and this year did not disappoint. The weather wasn't great, but that is what jackets and umbrellas are for. Hailey had her trike decorated all cute and she was so excited to see us when we showed up at 11:00. The kids even had candy that they threw out at the "crowd". Way to go Miss Hailey!

Snow White

I've been able to use Lucy's birthday party as leverage for a week now. And since it's over, I'll have to find something new to hang over her head. Lauren woke up on Tuesday morning and was delighted to hear that the party was that day. She got on her dress and asked (more like demanded) that I let her wear some make up. Where does a two year old come up with this? From her four year old big sister! Even though the party was not for Hailey, she wanted to get dressed up too. So I dolled them up and even let them wear some of my perfume. Lauren had a great time at the party! I can't believe how big she is getting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lauren's First Party Invite

This afternoon Lucy came by to deliver something to Lauren. Lauren was utterly excited that she got a card. She ripped open the envelope and squealed with delight. Her first party invitation! I can't believe all her little friends are turning three this year. That means this baby is turning three also. Upon discovering what was inside the envelope, she imediately wanted to call Daddy.

"Daddy! Lucy party and cake! Ariel in pink! Cinderella! Party! Presents!"

It's a pretty big milestone for this little one!


I don't know why, but I don't trust little girls who are whispering and giggling in the backyard. I don't trust little girls who suddenly run pantless through th backyard. I don't trust little girls who are running to the neighbor boy's house...pantless.

Evening Walks

Evening walks around the neighborhood as a family. Stopping at the park to play. Talking. Laughing. Holding hands. Pure bliss.

Baseball Season Opener

The month of May is insanely busy. With soccer, baseball, and swimming often times overlapping, it's hard to catch a breath. But I truly thrive on being busy so May is a good month for me.

Ethan is in his second year of Little League and he was so excited to start back up this season. And I couldn't contain my excitment when I found out his team would be none other than the Houston Astros! They are my team! He had two practices a week all through out April, and they had their first game on May 5th. This year Ethan has shown no anxiety or shyness at all toward sports. Last year seemed to be a "warm up" year. The kids were so cute at their first game as they warmed up! Ethan played first base and did a good job. He even got a couple of hits at bat and got a run for his team! And Dad is having a good time assisting the coach when he has time. It's going to be a great season.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

I hate for this to sound braggy or boastful. I am not meaning to sound like my life is perfect. It is far from it. I'm only writing this so that one day, when I am mad at Cody and I feel that he doesn't really love me, I can read this and remember what an amazing man I married and how lucky I am to be his wife. I won't say that our marriage is without issues. I won't say that there aren't things about him or our life that I wouldn't change. But I will say that I have more love in my heart for him than anyone should be allowed. Cody is such a blessing and an inspiration to me. And this weekend was a true testament of just how blessed I am.

It all started on Friday when he came home from work and had these amazing roses in hand. He said "Happy early Mother's Day" and kissed me on the cheek. He hurried and packed the oldest three kids up and off they went on a little excursion to find me some fun presents. Cody and I get a huge kick out of letting the kids wander the store in search of something that speaks to them. Whoever they are shopping for, they wander effortlessly until their eyes find that perfect gift. And how they get so excited as they think of how it will be to watch the recipient open the gift. I have been a wittness to this time and time again. What joy.

Today was incredible. Cody was in such a good mood and he made the kids breakfast so I could doddle a little this morning. I didn't want to rush. And it didn't matter to me that we were ten minutes late for Sacrament Meeting. Normally that frazzles me and gets me in a bad mood. But today I just took it in and I didn't care. I was happy to sit near the back with my little family. I loved watching Cody snuggle with Devin during the meeting. I loved watching my kids color and eat goldfish crackers. I loved hearing the music.

When we got home Cody told me to relax while he took care of everything. And he did just that. I changed into some really comfy clothes and I was able to relax on the couch while Devin napped in his crib. I NEVER EVER sit and veg during the day. But Cody insisted. After the kids had lunch they were sent out to play in the back yard. Cody had been asking me for days what I wanted for my special dinner. All I wanted was his incredible lasagna. I swear he makes the best I've ever tasted. So while he prepared his specialty, we watched "The Blind Side". I was on the couch, he was at the kitchen island most of the time. I have been wanting to see that movie for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity. It's great to find a movie that we can enjoy together, because our tastes are so different. What a wonderful film! So uplifting and inspirational. And when the movie was over I continued to lay on the couch and we just talked. How I love talking to this man.

Cody paid attention to detail, even asking me where he could find a nice table cloth. Amazing. After a delicious meal, we headed to the living room for presents. I hope to always remember the looks of sheer excitment on the kids' faces as they watched me open their gifts. I laughed and I cried. As silly as their gifts may sound, they meant the world to me because they were so unique to each of my children. Devin "gave" me a cool air freshener to cover up his stinky poop, Lauren gave me a bunny puzzle, Hailey gave me a stuffed purple horse with wings (which she is now sleeping with in her room), and Ethan gave me an astronaut Barbie. I love those kids to death.

And then it was time for Cody's card. I think he prides himself in finding things that make me cry. And that is never hard to do! His card made me laugh hard and then shed a few tears. I love him. And then, what really knocked me over was the new Nikon lens he surprised me with. Next month I am shooting my sister's engagement pictures, and then shooting her wedding in July. When I opened it he said "I know that will come in handy this summer..."

And then we headed outside into the beautiful evening air to go for a walk. Hailey and Ethan rode their bikes and the younger two rode in the stroller. Cody and I talked as we watched the older kids ride ahead of us. I cherish the rare moments when we can talk about life. As we watched our kids, I think neither of us could convey what we were feeling. The feelings of love and grattitude overtook us and for a while we were silent. A good kind of silent. The kind of silent when you don't have to say anything because you can read each other's thoughts. And then we started talking about whether or not our family is complete. It's something that we've struggled with for a long time. We talked all about the pros and cons to having one more baby. We talked openly and honestly about it. Of course we didn't come to a conclusion during that walk, but it was nice to get our feelings out into the open. I love those kinds of talks. I love it when Cody lets his guard down and is vulnerable.

And Hailey, as always, refused to wear her helmet the correct way. Backwards. Always walking to the beat of a different drummer, this one is.
Today was a good day. I have so much love in my heart right now. As I reflect back over the 7 years years since I first learned I would be a mom, I am blown away at how blessed we have been. Why the Lord sees fit to intrust me with these precious spirits, I have no idea. Why some women can bear children and others can not, it's beyond me. But I am so thankful for the gift of motherhood. Often times it is trying, but I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. The hard times make the good times that much sweeter. The yin and the yang.

My babies will never be able to understand how much I love them until they have babies of their own. I love them to the moon and back. My cup runneth over.
This evening before heading to bed, Cody told me he had something he wanted me to read. It was an article from Mormon Times-

As a young girl, I dreaded Mother's Day.

At the time, I couldn't have put why into words.

My mother was the sun and the moon to me. Yet each year on Mother's Day, she sat in the chapel listening to talks about amazing, angelic, perfect mothers. She inevitably teared up and was miserable.

I spent my time in Primary thinking of ways to make the rest of her day happy. Maybe on the way home from church, I could pick a pretty bouquet of wild flowers. I'd clean up all the dinner dishes. I'd draw her pretty pictures. That would do it, right?

Now that I'm a mother, I get it. My mom didn't think she measured up to the mythical idea of the Ideal Mother -- the mother that does not and has never existed. I've spent too many Mother's Days thinking the same thing.

In his book "All Moms Go to Heaven," Dean Hughes declares that instead of giving mothers flowers in sacrament meeting, we should give out solid chocolate statues of the mythical Ideal Mother so we can all bite her head off. When I read that, I wanted to fill a stadium with moms and cheer our lungs out. But while I understood the whole "Ideal Mother is a myth" thing in a logical sort of way, it took something else for me to understand it in my heart.

Several years ago for my birthday, my husband and I had plans to get a babysitter and go to a restaurant, maybe even catch a movie -- a rare treat. Since the day landed on a Saturday, I planned to spend most of the day resting and having "me" time.

It didn't turn out as planned.

My youngest, then age 2, woke up with croup. The poor thing, usually so energetic, lay on the couch without moving, staring off into the distance. She wanted to be held, didn't want to eat, and didn't talk.

I took her to the doctor, where, due to a clerical mix-up, we waited for hours and were the last to leave the off-hours clinic. From there I brought her home, picked up my 7-year-old, and the two of us went to the store for a gift to take to a birthday party, where I dropped her off.

Then I raced to the grocery store for my baby's prescriptions so we could give them to her before her nap, which was already overdue. While waiting for them to be filled, I did last minute Christmas shopping for the kids. Finally, with medications in hand, I hurried home to my little girl, who looked worse than ever.

I gave her doses of three separate medications and tried to coax some food or fluid down. I changed a messy diaper, got the cool mist humidifier set up in her room, held her close, and finally got her down for a much-needed nap.

Clearly, date night wouldn't be happening.

At the end of the day -- after reading a Christmas story to the three older children and babying my sick little toddler who simply didn't want to leave our bed -- my husband and I settled down.

I collapsed on my pillow -- wearing my new birthday pajamas -- and my husband said, "Sorry your birthday wasn't a very good one."

But in a sudden moment of clarity, I knew he was wrong. As I reviewed the day, I realized that this birthday held more meaning to me than any other. Birthdays are usually a selfish 24-hour fun-fest.

This one was different. I had moments when my little girl wanted no one but me because only I could make her feel better.

I took care of her in ways she didn't fully understand, like giving her medicine and running the humidifier, but which made a difference nonetheless.

I spent time one-on-one with my oldest daughter, who thrives on individual attention. The time wasn't long -- maybe only half an hour -- but we had fun walking through the store aisles hand in hand, choosing the perfect birthday present for her friend.

Even something as simple as shopping for stocking stuffers brought me joy as I selected items I knew would be meaningful for each of my four children.

For bedtime, I read special Christmas stories for my kids and tucked them into bed with hugs and kisses. Each of my children knew I loved them and cared for them unlike anyone else in the world.

After family prayer that night, they'd all given me huge hugs, nearly bowling me over. And I held onto them tight, knowing that they are my greatest treasures, and that in some way, I really was making a difference in their young lives.

So at the end of that ragged day, I had the realization that my life mattered -- and that because I was born on that day many years ago, four little people were now benefiting from my life. My birth really was something to celebrate.

It wasn't as if I was making huge waves in the world, creating social change or solving world hunger. But under my roof, under my watchful eye, my children had a mother who loved them dearly and who loved caring for them every day.

Ever since then, whether it's a birthday or Mother's Day, I make a conscious decision to make the day special.

Of course I am not even almost the mythical Ideal Mother. I usually have dirty dishes in the sink. More than once we've run out of clean underwear.

But I am worth the celebration. My children love me. I love them. I am their mother. I'm doing my very best to raise them in the gospel.

And on Mother's Day, I make a point to let my children celebrate that fact, finding happiness right along with me.

Only one rule: No tears allowed, unless they're tears of joy.

As I read this, tears streamed down my face. Cody hugged me when I was through reading and couldn't speak. He told me how thankful he was to me for being a wonderful mom to his children. And he told me that he loved me inspite of my shortcomings. He told me to not be so hard on myself because I was doing to a great job. What did I ever do to deserve such a man? It was a Mother's Day I will never forget.