. . . I continue to be caught off guard every Wednesday when “Brain cutting” shows up as an event on my calendar.
First “official” day in nursery. (He’s been attending for a month. Shhh. Don’t tell!)
My baby turned a year and a half this week. And boy is he a proud to be a “big boy.” He struts around after
his brother, everyone like he’s one of them. He’s talking up a storm and mimics constantly. (Every time Scotland comes over and shows me his latest LEGO creation and tells me about it, Anders will immediately bring over the DUPLO he’s working on and chatter on about it.) He continues to be a total ham, bringing smiles and often laughter by most who see him. He’s officially a runner, watching him run down a hill the other day, his belly jiggling and his cheeks flapping with the movement is a sight I hope to never forget. He and Scotland like to “do their exercise” racing each other back and forth down the hall. Anders has started saying his version of “Ready, Set, Go!” The inflection is dead on, but only the “go” is clear.
Anders sees absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do exactly what his brother is allowed to do. And he gets VERY
frustrated angry when I tell him he’s not old enough yet. He was thrilled to be included in this painting project, and was very intent and focused. Unfortunately, this experience taught me that tempera paints don’t wash out. I guess he has a permanent painting outfit now!
This is a terrible picture but it captures Anders sleeping position of choice. He always goes to sleep like this. Feet crossed, bum in the air, arms to the side. I guess he needs to make room for his belly!
The house we rented in NH had this little play house, and Anders made singular claim on it. (Adrienne has a hilarious video of him closing the door, and shuttering the windows when she came over to visit!) He spent hours and hours in here. He created this little routine that he would repeat over and over: open the door, walk around and grab leaves, open the shutters, place leaves in the sink. Walk in the house. Close the door. Sit down next to the sink. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s Tom you can see sitting in the house above, and he said Anders performed this little pattern some ten times.
His thinking face.
Anders is like Scotland in that he has this distinct thinking face. (Maybe all kids are that way, I wouldn’t know better!) More and more you see him examining things trying to make sense of them: the button that closes the garage door, the wheels on the stroller, the hook and eye of his duplo train.
He’s recently figured out how to assemble DUPLO and he’s beyond thrilled about it. He primarily loves building trains, often applauding himself when he gets a guy to stand up on the train, or finally gets a piece to adhere after a few tries. Other time he’ll raise both hands above his head and cheer. He’s always very proud of his creations, and as I mentioned early, typically finds me to show me what he’s build. He has a distinct train sound that he makes as he moves them around.
He continues to be an outdoor boy, often requesting to go outside as soon as he wakes up. He can now open the back door himself, and will often go out and play in the sandbox for a bit, or ride his bike. Scotland and he have figured out how to communicate when Anders needs a boost and they can now navigate our entire yard together, despite the rock walls. He loves harvesting in the garden. I’m hoping a few more green tomatoes will convince him that picking the red ones is a better idea! He’s learned about the native huckleberries that grow by the fort and will request I pick some for him when we’re up there together.
He continues to love balls and cars. He loves to play pass, and identifies “Ball” in all circular shapes, wherever we go.
His eating habits have improved. I’ve learned that he’ll gobble down stir fried and steamed veggies if they’re pureed. He now understands the concept- you can not have more X, unless you finish your Y. (Though he acts like he doesn’t every time!) He does NOT like to be fed, and will throw a fit when I suggest I want to feed him (to prevent mess). He’s a very messy eater and has a bad habit of throwing his plate when he’s done, though this is improving. (Drives me bonkers!)
He says: go, hi, bye, car, ball, where’d it go? (his most common phrase), Her’dis!, ma (first thing he says when he wakes up), Dada, blankie, thank you, Jesus, shoes, NO! (I used to think this was his automated response to anything asked of him, but it turns out he must genuinely NOT want to do most of the thinks I ask him, because when I say something like “Would you like a cookie” he quickly nods his head (so deeply his chin hits his chest) and says “ya.” Don’t, WOW!, okay, oh! let’s go!
We often play the game “Where’d it go?” whether it be picaboo, or looking for his shoes. He’ll always say in a really high pitched voice with his hands out “Wher’dit go?” and when he finds it, or uncovers his eyes, he’ll say in a lower pitched voice “Her ‘dis!”
The other day in the car, Scotland asked: “Mom when did Anders get a lower voice than me?” “What do you mean, bud?” I asked. “He just said (in a low voice) Where’dit go?”
Hangin’ out with Poppa, and wearing his hat
He’s rather particular. In the morning he’ll cry for me to come, but as soon as I enter his room he’ll flop back down into child pose, and close his eyes. But if I say “Oh, are you not ready to get up yet” and walk towards the door, he’ll sit up and start crying again. He likes me to kneel there next to his crib and wait until he’s ready. We play games where he’ll stick his arm through the crib and I”ll kiss his hand. It’s our sweet time together.
His Victory pose.
He has four teeth up top. He just cut his fourth tooth on the bottom, and he has all four molars.
He is super social and says “Hi” and “Bye” to everyone. He’s gotten such a positive response to his friendliness that Scotland has started to join him in the act. I can assuredly say that Anders has single handedly increased the number of smiles in our house by a large margin. And we were already a pretty smiley family before he was born.
He will do anything for a laugh, and once you laugh he will do it over and over and over. Like the other night, I was fixing dinner, and he started doing a three legged down ward dog. Scotter and I chuckled, so he started spinning in circles on his feet and hands lifting up his leg every quarter turn or so. We laughed and laughed- and he loved it!
He’s never been one to watch any TV, but Scotland has recently taken an affection for Wild Kratts, and Anders quite enjoys it too. (He particularly likes the parts with footage of live animals.) It’s darling seeing him sitting there, a little couch potato watching TV. It rarely lasts over ten minutes.
His friendliness and flirtiness make him much loved. His Aunt Dantzel particularly adores him, and he her. The young women in the ward always gush when I’ll ask if they’ll hold him, and he’s always sure to ham it up and get a laugh out of them.
He says sweet prayers. He’ll put each hand on his chest, bow his head, and mumble quietly to himself!
I love these last few pictures because they really capture the effect that Anders has on people. You just can’t help it! I can’t tell you how many people laugh out loud at his tilted head, squinty eyed, dimpled grins. (He’s apparently learned that his more exaggerated ones get better laughs, so he usually goes there first!)
We’re all absolutely in love with Anders. He has brought such an added measure of light heartedness and jovialty to our home. He’s strong willed and opinionated, hilarious and silly, sweet and affectionate, rebellious and naughty, obedient and attentive, social and friendly. But most of all, smiley. Happy half birthday Anderoo! We love you.
Oh, how I’ve pined to blog lately. I compose fragmented posts in my mind until I’m called away to more pressing matters. It’s already 10:00, and my head cold is urging me to bed, but I must write at least something. Clear my head a bit.
Here’s what’s on my mind- in no order:
Countertop choices- a most laborious decision. I’d always barred myself from ever considering marble. Too pish-posh, high class, sophisticated. But when the woman at the slab yard suggested it as a more economical means to the earthy light look I was going for. . . I got excited. Really, marble, economical? The more I read about it and looked a pictures of it, the more my heart started to pitter patter. Something it has NOT done with any other countertop. The question is, can I live with the etching, staining, patina? Some say Marble is like your favorite pair of jeans- they only get better with time, the wearing increases their appeal. We’ll see, I’m still deep in the process of estimates, slap yard visitations, and contractor visits. Ugh!
Our “have fun” lifestyle, and it’s potential consequences- I read a blog post by a woman who spoke of her concern of the emphasis on having fun. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it.) We drop our kids off and say “have fun.” My son prays daily, “Help us to have a fun day.” We ask: “Did you have fun?” She pondered whether it might be more fruitful to ask “What did you learn? Did you get to try something new. Who did you meet? That we pray for opportunities to learn, to grow to be challenged. I’ve been pondering the idea a lot, and the lesson on “work” in RS two weeks ago only added to it. Historians refer to our era as one focused on leisure and experience. Do we undermine our growth and the growth of our children by measuring the success of a day/activity by how much fun it was, as opposed to how much was overcome, how much was tried, how much was learned? I’m stewing on it.
FHE can be powerful. It’s intended to be powerful. Scotter and I did a 1 minute puppet show of the wise man and the foolish man, using cut outs from the Friend. Scotland was thrilled to be behind the chair performing with his Mom. Anders was tickled to be watching and clapping with his Dad. In preparation Scotland and I had a good chat about how doing hard things (Building a home on a hard foundation) is often better in the long wrong, than taking the easier, shorter route. I think he got it. Foutzes to hard things, I like to chant.
While I sat and painted stones with my two boys in our backyard this afternoon I thought, this is motherhood. Here, with my boys, engaged, learning, experimenting, together. There was much mess and the clean up lasted longer than the activity. But it was worth it.
I really want to irrigate my yard. What’s the best way to do it?
My hydrangeas are stunning. They bring me such happiness.
Blackberry season is nearly upon us. I’m so excited.
I listened to this Podcast about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It stirred me. I’m wondering- how can I build more community amongst the young women in our ward. They spoke the euphoria that can come by totally immersing yourself in an activity, loosing yourself, is what they said. They spoke of artists, and athletes who were when they have completely given themselves to their performance have experienced this sort of high, even though it doing so they actually loose much of their consciousness of themselves. I’ve felt it before- “How did your performance go?” – “I have no idea!” It gave a different meaning to the scripture Matthew 10:39-“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” It is when we completely immerse ourself in our present moment- in painting with our children, talking with our mother, greeting the cashier that we find a higher level of happiness? Now how to achieve that.
I had the scariest moment of my parenting career this morning. That’s for another day. . .
I’m going to bed. Buona Notte!
I’m reading a book right now, and the author talks quite a bit about her habit of writing. I find myself feeling a bit jealous every time she speaks of it. Oh, how I’d love to have more time to write, I think. Then I realize, I have all the time I need to write, I just have to take it, to make it.
I had a real turning point sort of week. I hope it’s a permanent turn. I’ve been studying prayer and revelation in preparation for the class I teach on Sundays. As I studied this talk, I was really inspired to make my prayers more connected, to set a goal in the morning and report back in the evening. It fit perfectly with my recent realization that I am an obliger (again from Better Than Before). I’m quite reliable if others ask me to do something, but I tend to slack when it’s just me asking myself to do things. Accepting this was key. Then I knew I had to do something about it, I needed to find accountability for those things I want to change or do, that no one else was aware of. (Think virtues like charity, patience.) Prayer, I realized, was the ideal practice. I have covenanted with my Father in Heaven, and thereby obliged myself to Him. Through prayer I am able to work with Him to set the course of my day and then follow through with Him. I made a simple chart so that I could write down my goals and daily reports (writing is powerful for me.) And it worked wonders. I had a really transformative week. I curbed my angry outbreaks. My adoration of Scotland returned as I sought to understand and respect him more. As a result, his angelic behavior returned. The spirit was in our home, love abounded, and I LOVED motherhood. I felt supported. I was working with someone, I felt the aid of God. Each night as I reported back I repented for my short comings and sought suggestions and guidance on how to prevent them the following day. And together We rejoiced at my successes. The next morning, reflecting on the previous days struggles I set a clear goal, prayed for inspiration and help to carry it out. And got on my feet and went for it.
Tom recently posted this article on FB. It talks about how Residency programs’ emphasis on education has been radically reduced and as a result residents level of satisfaction has dropped. Where residents of the past were content to work long hard hours, empowered by their sense of purpose established by intimate mentorships and learning opportunities. Today, stripped of time to learn from mentors, and read and study, residents feel like slave laborers working alone to do more than seems possible. Education and learning is key. I’ve known that, but I wasn’t sure how to put it in practice in regards to motherhood. How could I create a system of assignments, projects, and evaluations so that, like those residents, I could continue to learn and be inspired to high levels of care. I don’t want to become a jaded mother, unable to see past the monotony of my career path.
Happiness comes from seeking a higher way of living, from personal progress. This new prayer system has given me new found purpose. In my ability to track small successes and figure out solutions to daily failures I feel renewed and rededicated to upward movement, to a higher path of mothering. Now, with assignments, projects, and evaluations, motherhood feels more like a career. My aspirations feel more legitimate, more possible.
This post is long overdue, and many of these “milestones” have been in place for months. But in hopes of never forgetting the many darling things he does:
Penguin hugs- When Anders gives hugs he puts his arms down flat against his side, or against his chest and presses his body and head into you.
Child’s pose-bum in the air, head on his blankie,
Adores his “Chip chip” (stuffed monkey), “Lovey” (bunny/blanket) and blankies (gets giddy when he sees them in his crib and pulls them out, and nuzzles them- often laying his blankie on the ground then doing child’s pose on top of it, his head resting on it a content smile on his face.
Hates diaper changes.
Shoes- he LOVES shoes. He prefers to be wearing shoes, and wants to put them on as soon as he wakes up. He gets so excited when he sees a pair of his shoes and will bring them over to me, even if he is already wearing a pair. He said “Shoez” for the first time last week.
Signing- Anders seems to really appreciate the sign language we have taught him. He beams with delight when he signs “water” or “drink” and I say “Are you thirsty? Would you like a drink?” Or when I open the door for him to go out after he’s looked me in the eye and signed “outside.” He regularly uses, “hungry,” “outside,” “dog,” “drink,” “night night,” “bird,” “bread” and “hot” but he also knows “Please” “thank you” “more” and “all done.” It’s so darling when he’s sitting there eating breakfast and he sees a little bird at the birdfeeder, he’ll say “cheep cheep” and sign bird. He’s also lately started signing dog whenever he hears a dog barking.
Just this last week he’s started to attempt speaking more. He’s said shoes, car, rock, Jesus, that, Momma, Dadda.
Smiles. They’re constant. They’re wide mouthed. They light you up. The other day we were at IKEA waiting to make some returns. One lady near us was taken in by his friendliness and talked and smiled at him, another woman gave very little response. He kept looking at her and beaming, and beaming and them became quite serious, clearly puzzling over why he wasn’t getting his typical response. He just stood there staring at her for a long time. And then looked back at the more joyful woman and gave her another dazzling grin, she burst out laughing.
Hide and seek. He’s the kid that does it with whoever’s sitting in the pew behind us. It’s one of the few ways I can distract him from screaming and spinning when I change his diaper.
Eating. He loves to eat. He seems to have textural issues. A dish that he’ll put his nose up at in the chopped form, he’ll scarf down when blended- mostly vegetables. He still breaks out in minor hives around his mouth when I feed him scrambled eggs or peanut butter. He just doesn’t eat eggs any more, but he loves peanut butter.
Outdoor boy- he loves being outside and requests to go outside several times a day. (Every time I sing praises to our home with it’s fenced, private backyard!) He loves the sandbox (Despite it’s 1/2″ of sand). If I go out with him he likes to have me help him through his routine of toys: 20 seconds on the scooter, 20 seconds on the bike, 10 seconds on the rocking horse, then we play ball, and then he wants me to help him climb the ladder up to the fort, then he wants a few pushes on his swing. It’s the same order everytime, the same short durations. He’s bound and determined to get up to the climbing trees where Scotland loves to play (a bunch of HUGE rhododendron that I pruned up so the kids could climb in them. He has successfully made it to the top a few times on his own, but he’s also gotten stuck enough times to be more cautious now.
The best development of late is his ability and desire to play with Scotland. A month or two ago their interactions were frequent and loud- Anders did a lot of screaming. I’ve worked hard to teach both boys better ways of interacting, and tried to stand back a bit more and let them work it out. It seems to be working because they play together so well now. Scotland loves the company and Anders loves to be included. Anders plays legos with Scotland, they wrestle, they play in the sandbox, they run around and chase each other, and more and more they CRACK EACH OTHER UP! Hearing the two of them bantering back and forth, laughing hysterically at the other’s silly sound or crazy movement always brings a smile to my face. Anders puts up with a lot. Where he used to scream every time Scotland took something from him, now more often then not he just runs with it. He can put up with a fair amount of wrestling, and seems to be learning when to run off, and when he does need to cry for help. (Scotland sometimes forgets that he’s playing with a one year old and not a fellow four year old!)
Running. You probably couldn’t technically call it running, but his arms are swinging and his little feet moving fast and you can tell he thinks he’s running. The movement is clearly a delight because it’s always accompanied with a smile and twinkling eyes.
Writing. Anders has a natural pencil grip. He scribbles with good control. He loves to sit up to our desk downstairs and color next to Scotland.
Backing up to sit in your lap.
Helper. He loves to help sweep- usually just using his broom to scatter up the pile I swept up. If he sees me carrying something large, he’ll reach his hands out to help. He’s forever joining me with a tool to build a cabinet or work on the kitchen in someway. I nearly always vacuum with him holding on walking along with me.
Looking dapper on Mother’s Day
Just this past week he’s turned into a cuddle bug. He’s never been a super huggy child, but all of a sudden he’s started to just come up to me his arms held high with a little whimper. I’ll pick him up and he’ll turn his head to lay on my shoulder, and move his arms flat against his sides- a penguin hug. I love it!
Social. He loves people and attention. Last week during Sunday school he entertained two of the elderly sisters behind us for the full hour. If they dared look up at the teacher he would do something darling and funny to bring their eyes back to him. He passed his ball back and forth, he tickled them, and more than anything he smiled, then tilted his head and smiled some more. At first I felt bad that he was being so distracting but then looking at their own beaming faces, I figured this was probably as good for them as anything!
He loves being involved in Joy School. And loves to have friends over.
He continues to love his sleep. He goes to bed around 6:30 and wakes up around 7:00 then usually takes a 45min-1 hour morning nap around 10:00 and another one- two hour nap around 12:30.
He likes looking at books, but doesn’t much like being read to. Well, his favorite thing is for you to have a book that you read, and for him to have a book that he looks through next to you. He DOESN”T want to sit on your lap. And he DOESN’T want to look at the same book that you are looking at. He’ll get out books through out the day and sit down and flip through them looking at the pictures.
He loves playing kitchen.
He continues to love balls.
He does this adorable thing during prayers (well rarely during the prayer.) He puts both hands on his chest (like he’s too chubby to fold them across himself or something) and bows his head. It’s darling, and lasts 2 seconds.
He’s very independent. He’s happy to play on his own. He takes commands well “Anders will you go get your jacket/shoes, we need to go.” He gets the goings and comings and goes with the flow well. He walks the halls of the church like he owns the place, and people always comment on what a little man he is. (It’s clear, that he is totally unaware of how much smaller he is than the rest of us.) When we enter the library he immediately wants down so he can beat his brother to the computer station.
He uses a fork well.
By and large, he’s a really easy baby. Just keep him fed and well slept! We love our Anders. He keeps us laughing and smiling.
My friend sent this video. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
This quote, though directed towards Fathers is also something I’m coming to realize more and more!
“These guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not eh child but the parent.” Frank Pittman, MD “Man Enough”
A bit of background:
As part of our “About Me” unit, Joy school focused on families this week. For our Wednesday lesson I set up a role play activity. Each child drew a family member that they were to dress up as and portray. When one boy drew “mother” he grumped, “but mother’s are BORING!” The Dad was most popular. On Friday we read a book about Mother’s and afterwards I asked the kids “What do you love about your Mother?” A few mumbled a little something, but they quickly started talking about their Dads.
Two weeks ago after pulling Scotland on my lap and saying “Scotland, do you know how much I love you? -SOOOO much!” He responded: “I love you zero. I only love Daddy.” A girlfriend says she has to “close her heart” at dinner time as her two boys argue over who gets to sit by Dad- no one wants to sit by Mom.
I guess I was ignorant in thinking I could be a “fun Mom.” I aspired to be a Mom that my children would adore, while also being a Mom that challenged my kids and pushed them to achieve and be more. But Scotland has made it abundantly clear that I am the lesser loved parent. He’s absolutely head over heals for his Dad, and I’m an after thought. Take today, I invited him chipperly to join me in cutting flowers for a bouquet for our Mother’s Day meal. He refused until I said, “Okay, I can do it myself.” Then he came out. As soon as he was out there he was excited about the prospects of making bouquets for everyone. I quickly clipped a vase full of rhododendrons. He went about for a while after picking wild flowers and clipping a BUNCH more rhododendron blooms. He brought them in, happily, announcing that the large bouquet was for him. He looked at my pretty vase of flowers on the table and pronounced “Those are for Dad,” then looking at a straggling vase of wilting ferns he said, “Those are for you.”
This mother’s day has felt much different than my past few. Before I felt elated with motherhood. I felt honored and blessed to be called Mother. I felt so loved. This year, I feel mostly, unappreciated. In my attempts to honor motherhood and teach my boys the importance of showing gratitude we had a few conversations about what I do for them, and how important mothers are. Scotter didn’t seem to care, and they ended with me feeling embarrassed, like I was begging for appreciation. He would always just turn the conversation to talk of how wonderful his father is. (Which he is!)
So, naturally for me, I’ve asked myself: Is this how it should be? Am I doing something wrong? Should I change things up so that I’m more likable? The answer I’ve received, is by and large, No. Yes I could be better about really focusing on Scotland, giving him at least 15 minutes a day to totally rule the roost, and being more selective about how often I offer helpful hints and pointers. But as is shown by an incident the other day when I asked him to clean up his room and he yelled back “I’m not going to love you any more if you ask me to do that.” The very core of my role as mother is to nurture, and nurture is by definition “To care for and encourage the growth and development of.” Growth and development don’t come easily, there are growing pains associated. Research shows how integral women are to progress in a multiplicity of ways. I”m reminded of this story:
A salesman walked down a street past a group of boys playing baseball. No one answered the door at the house where he was to call. Through a side door, he saw a boy the age of those playing in the street, dutifully practicing the piano. Baseball gear leaned against the wall. He called, “Excuse me, sonny, is your mother home?” The boy glanced at his baseball gear and said glumly from the keyboard, “What do you think?”
I think often of this section from Hafen’s article:
Consider now, in summary, a true story from Australian history that illustrates the power of women’s moral influence as mothers of hope, women of fidelity, wives of commitment, and nurturers of human ties. In its early decades as a British colony, Australia was a vast wilderness designated as a jail for exiled convicts. Until 1850, six of every seven people who went “down under” from Britain were men. And the few women who went were often convicts or social outcasts themselves. The men ruthlessly exploited them, sexually and in other ways. With few exceptions, these women without hope were powerless to change their conditions.
In about 1840, a reformer named Caroline Chisholm urged that more women would stabilize the culture. She told the British government the best way to establish a community of “great and good people” in Australia: “For all the clergy you can dispatch, all the schoolmasters you can appoint, all the churches you can build, and all the books you can export, will never do much good without . . . ‘God’s police’– wives and little children–good and virtuous women.”
Chisholm searched for women who would raise “the moral standard of the people.” She spent twenty years traveling to England, recruiting young women and young couples who believed in the common sense principles of family life. Over time, these women tamed the men who were taming the wild land; and civil society in Australia gradually emerged. Also, the colonial governments enacted policies that elevated women’s status and reinforced family life. As one historian said, “the initial reluctance of the wild colonial boys to marry was eroded fairly quickly.” Eventually, thousands of new immigrants who shared the vision of these “good and virtuous women” established stable families as the basic unit of Australian society more quickly than had occurred “anywhere else in the Western world.”
This striking story of women’s moral influence grew from a conscious design to replace “the penal colony’s rough and wild ways” with “a more moral civilization.” The reformers intentionally capitalized on women’s innate “civilizing” capacity.  These women made Australia a promised land that flowed with a healthy ecosystem of milk and honey. And the milk, literally and figuratively, was mother’s milk–the milk of human kindness. That milk nurtures those habits of the heart without which no civil society can sustain itself.
Scotland doesn’t appreciate it when I remind him to sit back on his chair and pull his torso off the table while he eats. He gets frustrated when I tell him he needs to clean his room. He grumbles when I remind him to leave the bathroom clean after he’s used it. But if I didn’t teach him these things, I would be doing him a huge disservice. Someone has to do it. Refinement must be learned. And I’m the one home all day, so it falls to me. I’m to be the nag. I didn’t want to be a naggy Mom. But I really see no other way. Children need constant reminders. And while I really work hard to be encouraging, supportive, and creative in my helpful hinting, in the end, I’m telling him what to do, and he doesn’t like it. As a pleaser, the role of motherhood is hard for me. I want so badly to be a loving, caring attentive mother. A mother worthy of admiration. But most of the time, as I look into my sons disgruntled eyes I feel like I’ll never measure up.
Today, as I made my own Mother’s day meal- determined to “celebrate motherhood” I pondered this topic. (Tom worked a 24 hour shift yesterday- so I’m not complaining about him.) A scripture came to mind “For they loved the praise of men more then the praise of God.” (John 12:43) It took on new meaning today. I’ve always thought of the “praise of men” being the secular world, but today, it was my son, my children. I need to focus on pleasing God, and worry less about pleasing my children.
I was also reminded of how many of God’s children disregard him, disrespect him, even defile him. Even Divine Parenting doesn’t always result in happy obedient children who lovingly worship you. We are all agents unto ourselves.
And finally I asked myself, do I respect, honor and praise my Mother? Not often enough. As I looked around me I started to see her influence in everything I did. The freshly cut flowers adorning my table- a witness to her love of flowers, the time she took teaching me to care for plants, and then the opportunity she gave me to completely take over her flowerbeds (Only after many years of me moaning and fussing about my chore to weed.) The vegetable laden pasta dish- a witness to her dedication to healthy living, her commitment to healthy fresh food, her home cooked meals, (Vegetables I cried and complained about as a kid.) My attendance at church, alone- a shadow of her total commitment to Christ. The list went on and on. And in each case I could remember times, when as a child, I complained and fought her about the very things I now hold so dear. A friend once said she doesn’t think your kids really get what you’re trying to teach them until they grow up and have families of there own. Boy, that seems like a long time to wait, but reflecting on the profound influence my Mother has had in my life. It’s worth it!
Yesterday, I was thinking about our hardwood floors. It makes the most sense to install new floors in the kitchen, and then refinish the upstairs so that it all matches. But then I got worrying that doing so would create a situation where I was uptight about my floors because they are only going to get scratched. And suddenly I felt this overwhelming feeling. Who Cares! That’s what floors are for, to be LIVED on. Why do we all want a home that doesn’t look lived in? Then I realized the same was true with our bodies, people want bodies that don’t look lived in. Wrinkles are a sign of life- of smiling, crying, expression. It struck me what an awfully cunning plan it is to convince mankind that the “ideal life” was one that was only attainable by not living fully. Interestingly, Scotter chose to watch Wall-E for movie night tonight, which only furthered my feelings. Distancing ourselves from reality is stifling. Real life is people, stains, wrinkles, scratches, bruises, broken arms, and vivid memories. Sure we can feed our children crumb-less chicken nuggets and occupy their days with TV so they don’t make messes or scratch our floors. But doesn’t that sound like our priorities are a little messed up? I’ve decided to embrace the patina of life. I want to be among the living. So bring on the stretch marks, the wrinkles, the scuffed up flooring and stained carpet. I choose life!
I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “So how was your trip?” I’ve given the expected pleasantry, “Oh, it was great!” But, for record’s sake I wanted to sum up our Pocatello experience, because I learned some important lessons. I’ll go ahead and do this bullet-point style.
- Long car trips are entirely doable. Especially if you rely heavily on the ipad and a bit of caffeine. For the longest time I said I couldn’t do long trips. I have a history of drowsy driving. I really consider it a miracle I’ve never crashed. So the thought of driving nine hours was really intimidating to me. But I did it, and it wasn’t that big of deal. I did have to utilize some caffeine near the end. But that’s what drugs are for. I had this ongoing battle with myself about how much ipad, was too much ipad. I’d get all worried that letting Scotland watch six hours of TV was going to do- I don’t know what, but surely something bad? But when he wasn’t on the pad, because I hadn’t done a good job of providing alternatives, he would just poke at his brother, which resulted in a lot of loud screaming, which resulted in two stressed out parents. Finally, Tom looked at me, when I was getting really exasperated, and said “I’d just let him play on the ipad.” It was only an issue when we drove in the truck because they have to be right next to each other. . . anyway, still trying to figure that one out. I just couldn’t get the line from “Last Child in the Woods” out of my head What happened to the days when children looked out the window and imagined.
- You can totally take a hiatus from life. It felt really strange to leave our friends, callings, work, home, and yard. But we did it. And it wasn’t that big of deal. Granted we have a pretty simple life, our kids aren’t in many activities yet, we’re not heavily involved with things. It’s just always therapeutic to realize: I have choice! I don’t have to do anything. (Not that you can choose the consequences. . . that’s another post.)
- I love my family. I spent the majority of my time traveling to see family: Tom’s folks and sister, my two sisters, my brother, and my grandparents. It was wonderful to be with them in a less structured less stressful environment (than say family reunions.) I’ve always preferred solo visits to my siblings, I just get more quality time. Scotland was in heaven to have a constant playmate- he said at one point. “What’s even better than a friend? A cousin!”
- While I wish Tom’s commute wasn’t as long, I wouldn’t sacrifice our yard and spacious house for it. We lived less than five minutes from the hospital in Pocatello. We loved having Tom home for lunch, and getting to see more of him in the morning- and have his help at dinner. But my boys were stir crazy in our small apartment. It was nice to reaffirm our decision to live where we do.
- I love a yard. I really missed my yard while we were there. Part of it was just the time of year. Knowing that I could be planting peas back in Seattle. But I just missed working the earth, and seeing everything bud out. There is something special about your own daffodils blooming.
- I’m happier when I have more people in my life. I’m content at home. I consider myself a home body. I don’t crave sociality the way some do, but, I’m happier when I’m more social. Because I was with family much of the time, I was with many more people than I normally am, and I really thrived on it. I was determined to be more social when I got back, but I quickly fell back into old trends- prioritizing projects over people. We had a wonderful picnic and playground play with our friends, the Hulets yesterday and it was SO refreshing. The day before we had a picnic with our Joy school friends and I came home so buoyant. Life is about people.
- I love the temple. I visited several temples and got to attend the Logan temple while I was there. I just feel immense happiness when I attend the temple.
- Tom’s an incredibly supportive husband. I’m very lucky. He would have preferred us to stay in Pocatello so he could see the boys and get a break from work. But he fully supported, even encouraged me to take these two months to go and do. I love him, and feel such gratitude for the help meet that he is.
After our wonderful day at Bryce we headed to Zion’s National Park. We started our visit with the Canyon Overlook trail, which was a real winner- a perfect way to be introduced to the grandeur of the park. Scotland got his taste of 4-year-old “high adventure” aka rock climbing, and trails running alongside steep drop offs.
Scotter is like his Mom in his preference for unpaved, rugged paths. He LOVED this trail with it’s natural rock steps and abundance of boulders to climb. (He always chooses the path least traveled.)
“Look Mom, I’m a rock climber!”
Anders was SO happy being outdoors all day. He enjoyed the pack, even taking a long nap the second day. Though he was always thrilled when we got him out to hike, play in the water or red sand.
We all played in the sand at the top for a good hour. Gotta love a nature vacation for teaching you to slow down and enjoy the simple things.
We swung by to see the popular “Weeping Rock,” It was, unfortunately, less impressive that time of year, being void of the fern and flowers its known for. Though the boys liked running through the dripping water. After our stunning drive to the park and a couple of fun hikes we headed to St. George to connect with Tom’s folks at the condo we rented together. The next day we spent exploring St. George and the Red Rocks Recreational area.
St. George Temple
We visited the St. George temple- which must have been recently painted because it was blindingly white. I’ve always wanted to visit the Nauvoo temple and have regretted we didn’t make the trip while we lived in Cleveland. So it was fun to see the St. George temple since the design is the same. Tom’s Dad told us a story about his grandparents. They traveled a good distance to be married in the St. George temple, and at that time there were rooms at the top of the temple where honeymooners could stay the first night after they were sealed! Apparently that small circle near the top, is the window of the room!
We felt so lucky that it worked out last minute to connect with Pam and Stan. They are such adoring grandparents and the boys always soak up their attention.
We spent a bit of time in the visitor’s center. I had a really sweet experience with Scotland. Talking about the Christus and walking through the room with artwork portraying the life of the Savior. He’s a spiritual curious and sensitive boy. And I love getting to share this beautiful side of existence with him.
We visited several of the church history sites there such as the above, Brigham Young’s winter home.
His actual bed and cane.
Brigham was quite ill much of the time while he lived here, he did most of his business in this upstairs room. Just outside of the room at the top of the stairs was a window that he would often stand at and look out- as he could see the progress on both the tabernacle and the temple from there. It was moving to think of the great man with extraordinary vision who lived in these quarters.
Red Cliffs recreational area
The colors were so beautiful- with the bright spring green of the cottonwood trees, the brilliant blue sky and the orangish-red rock.
Playing in the sand with Poppa. I always appreciate how willing my father-in-law is to get down and play with my boys. (Notice that he and Anders are matching. Blue jeans and a gray polo! It wasn’t intentional, but certainly cute.)
Boys in ball caps. A favorite.
We had so much fun exploring this place. Scotland crawled up one hole and proclaimed: “I just POPPED right out of the ground!”
Hiking is one of my favorite activities with the boys. I feel like we’re both in our element and we connect better. Sometimes at home I don’t feel like the “fun one” because I get focused on keeping things clean, teaching, and keeping the household running. But outdoors I’m all about adventure, energy and exploration. I’m realizing that I really need to plan at least a monthly hike with the boys. We all love it, and we live in the perfect area for it. We finished the day off with pizza, milkshakes, and a movie at the Condo. Mmmm!
The next day we headed back to Zions, this time with Pam and Stan. We started off with the Riverside walk.
Anders thought it was a severe injustice that Scotland could walk in the river and he couldn’t. (I finally bought him rain boots today!) In my opinion kids should live in rain boots. They just lend themselves to so much more fun. (You wouldn’t believe how many people commented on how lucky Scotland was to be wearing rainboots! He takes FULL advantage of them.)
We hiked up to the narrows and were lucky enough to see six deer make a river crossing. There were a bunch of people geared up to hike the narrows. I was seriously tempted to do it, since I knew Tom’s parents could have watched the boys. But if just didn’t seem like the right time. We’ll go back in ten years when we can do it with the boys. I can’t imagine a more thrilling trip with teenagers!
This rock was so fun, we both slid down it several times on our bums.
There are more beautiful times to visit Zions, but as Pam said, going this time of year, before the trees have leafed out, allowed us to see more. (I love how Pam finds the positive!)
Running under the waterfall on the Emerald Pools trail.
The sun was so intense, I kept getting white washed pictures. Oh well, I”ll take the sun anyday!
I planned this trip. And and read tons of blogs and trail journals about people’s favorite parts of Zions. As a result I really wanted to experience the slot canyons. Most of them require three to five miles of hiking, which I knew wasn’t feasible with the boys. So I spoke with one ranger about possibilities to see slot canyons without much hiking and she told me about this one. There was no marked trail. I never wouldn’t have thought I could just go wondering off into the park, had two rangers not told me I could. Tom, Scotland and I all climbed under a bridge and down a series of boulders until we dropped down into this. Scotter even got to experience quick sand for the first time! I must add my in-laws were so sweet to make this happen. I felt rather selfish on this trip. I had all these high hopes of what we’d see and do, even though I braced myself for the reality of traveling with kiddos. We’d had a full day and everyone was pretty tired, so I stayed quiet regarding my hope to still try to find a slot canyon, but my father-in-law, remembering my earlier enthusiasm, determined that “We’ve got to get Kjirsti her slot canyon before we go!” We drove across the park, partially so they could experience the Mount Carmel Tunnel- which is SUCH a thrill, and so that I could get the tiniest taste of canyoneering.
Mount Carmel Tunnel
It’s a gorgeous park, with such interesting terrain. I really got the high adventure bug researching this trip. I feel more alive in nature, I feel stronger, more capable. Perhaps it reminds me of hard backpacking trips, carrying WAY more weight than I should have because I was determined to carry more than my petite sister. Or perhaps its that Petersen blood- we love our land. Regardless, those feelings surged as we spent these three days entirely outside and I loved it!