Happy Conference Weekend!

This weekend was our church’s spring General Conference. There are four general sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday for two hours each session. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. I always come away from conference feeling spiritually edified and inspired. This weekend was no different. I’m grateful that baby is holding out, so we could enjoy this weekend together. I’ve worked hard over the years to make conference weekend something special for the boys. So I was thrilled when I heard Scotland exclaim to Anders as they snuggled on the rocking chair and chatted in the early morning hours, “Anders, it’s conference weekend!” Most of their excitement revolves around the special food that accompanies conference: cinnamon rolls, candy when they find the picture of the leader speaking, etc. But, I’d be selling them short if I didn’t give them credit for the joy they feel while listening to the talks and hearing the music. They both spent a significant amount of time just sitting watching and listening, commenting on the beautiful music, or the content of the talks. Considering their ages, they did a terrific job.

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather on today to enjoy a lot of family time- having a picnic between sessions, climbing our trees out back, and riding bikes at the playground in the afternoon. Scotland made it to a major milestone today: He’s now riding a pedal bike! We took the training wheels and pedals off his bike several months ago to turn it into a balance bike. Today Tom put the pedals back on and he immediately took to it. It’s really quite a spectacular transition- especially if you’re used to the more typical scene of the parent running behind the bike and grimacing as the child crashes, over and over. We’re so proud of him.

Both feet off the ground!

We’ve had a lot of bike time the last two weeks, and Anders has made significant progress on his strider as well. (Can I just say, that was the most perfectly chosen birthday gift!) While we were picnicking at the park with friends on Friday he started lifting up his feet while he cruised down the ramp at the park! And he’s now sitting on the seat and taking long gliding steps with his feet. It’s HILARIOUS to watch. And Tom and I both felt bad for repeatedly snickering. He’s very proud of his bike, and is very serious and persistent with it.

Boy do we love having a playground walking distance from our house!

Seeing both of these boys speeding around on their bikes makes me SO happy. I’m already planning summer bike rides, and thrilling at the thought of jogging along side them with baby in the stroller. I think I’ll spring for a baby seat on my bike when she’s old enough so we can all ride together.

We’ve seen so much more of Tom the last few weeks, which has been SO wonderful. This weekend just really felt like normal family life- we had a s’more roast with friends, Tom and I watched a movie together, we had meals together, we laughed, and enjoyed our boys. And it just felt so right. We both feel really grateful that we’ve had this time leading up to our baby’s birth, so we can welcome her in with warmth, love and genuine joyful anticipation.

Happy Easter

We had a beautiful Easter- spread over a few days. We dyed eggs Friday night for “Family Fun” we hid two sets of plastic eggs inside on Sunday and then hid our boiled eggs outside on Monday (Since Sunday was rainy and cold, and Monday was beautiful.) We had our spiritual lesson on Monday for Family Home Evening, as Sunday was taken up with church and dinner with the Vogel’s. I managed to get one quite snap shot on Easter when the rain broke for 15 minutes before church. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of our family: Anders looking sweet, Scotland being silly, me smiling though clearly stressed out, and Tom trying to keep the peace. I’m not sure why Easter Sundays are always so stressful for me. I’m afraid the attempt to get two wiggly high energy boys to church without dirtying their clean pressed shirts, or rumbling their brushed hair is an overachievement. But I keep trying, unsuccessfully- adding a family picture to the equation was the sinker this year. Thanks to the classical radio station for calming my nerves before Sacrament meeting.







IMG_4968The boys had so much fun with all the egg hunts. They loved hiding the eggs for each other, and for us. Anders ran around the yard enthusiastically, exclaiming whenever he found an egg. And Scotland was determined to find the “hard” ones we had hid for him.

I prepared the “Easter Bag” activity from the Friend, for FHE. It involved a collection of items that symbolized different events in the last week of the Savior’s life. We then read the scriptures and the boys found the item mentioned. I’m still surprised at how well my boys understand the scriptures. Anders excitedly picked up the little plastic cup when I read “Let this cup pass from me.” As is the norm their was a good measure of silliness, but I hope that the boys felt some of the spirit that I felt. Especially as I read the passage of Christ appearing to Mary before he ascended to the Father. The emotion captured there is stirring. I felt a measure of the joy Mary must have felt at seeing her Lord alive, and was glad to be able to bear testimony to the boys of the living Christ.

I’m so grateful for sacred holidays for bringing these discussions to the forefront. I’m grateful for a church that nurtures spirituality in my boys. There are few things that I love more than hearing them sing primary songs as they play- often filling in lyrics or making up melodies where their memories fail them. I’m grateful for how their testimonies strengthen mine. Mostly, I’m grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for filling my heart with joy, my mind with truth, and my soul with peace.

Reflections on the third pregnancy

I kept a consistent pictorial record of my first pregnancy. (here, here, here) My second pregnancy though less thoroughly documented also featured several posts, though less directly related to my pregnancy. This time around I’ve posted far less on every subject, so following suit, my pregnancy has hardly been noted, except for this one post. I can’t sleep so I figure 4:00AM is a wonderful time to document a few things.

I’m in no means an old Mom, so perhaps it’s just the result of it being my third pregnancy but I’ve had a lot more pain this time around. As a result I’ve had to significantly decrease my level of activity the last few months. Which has been really difficult for me. Especially with spring bursting out, I have such an itch to head out on a long run, or at least a spritely walk. From time to time I’ll throw caution to the wind and head out regardless, only to suffer the consequences the rest of the day or week. I’m pretty sure I have PSD, which essentially means that the hormone relaxin has over loosened my pelvis making it abundantly obvious that my pelvic cradle is made up of not one but two bones. Asymmetrical movements like stepping into a car, or climbing onto bed are painful, and even when walking I can feel the two sections of my pelvis separating and connecting. Sitting for long aggravates it, and by the end of the day I’m all too happy to settle into my “throne,” as Tom calls my leather reclining rocking chair.

It’s definitely been harder to be pregnant and have a two year old, as opposed to a three year old. Anders still insists that he is a “baby” and he loves to be held. I love to hold him, but any more I have to curl him up above my belly which is pretty ridiculous considering his size and weight. Cuddling when rotund as I, is awkward and Anders often gets frustrated by his lack of options. There is still a lot of picking up and carrying necessary with a two year old, which at this stage of pregnancy is trying.

Last pregnancy i had terrible cholestasis at this point. Knock on wood, but it hasn’t been as bad this time around. It’s often what keeps me up on nights like tonight when Tom comes to bed super late, and wakes me- my itchy feet and hands often make it hard to fall back asleep, but it hasn’t kept me from falling asleep as much as it did last pregnancy.

I’ve been measuring small this pregnancy, which was NOT the case last time. I’ve had a couple of extra ultrasounds as a result, and everything looks fine, it just looks like our little lady probably won’t be over 10 pounds like her brother. Thank goodness!

One of the sweetest parts of this pregnancy has been the boys’ reaction to it. We talk about “baby” daily, and it’s clear that Scotland, especially, has considered himself as having a sister for several months, and often introduces her as such when we talk to people. Feeling her move always makes him giggle, and he’ll just pat my belly to give her love, or put his little face down and talk to her from time to time. I’ve been working on the nursery in my spare time the past few months, and last week Scotland said upon going to bed “Mom will you work on baby’s room? Because I’m so excited for baby!” He likes to go in there and check on my progress and talk about how he’s going to care for baby. We talk with the boys often about their upcoming responsibilities as big brothers. Scotland likes to recite all the ways he’s going to help. I’m a little nervous that he’s going to be disappointed, when she actually arrives, that many of the things he’d hoped to help with, he won’t be able to, at least for the first couple of months. (He’ll say things like, Let’s leave this step stool here so I can get baby out of her crib!) He coos at each new girly gift that we receive. And when I told him that baby is due in just two weeks, and could come any day, his eyes lit up then grew worried, as he said he hoped she didn’t come for two weeks because he still needed to “sew her bows.”

Anders is less aware but he still talks about baby, especially when Scotland is doing so. He’s spent more time carry for our lone baby doll, and even took her wrapped up in a blanket with a bow and pacifier to Taekwondo the other day. As I mentioned, if you ask him if he’s a big boy or a baby, he’ll exclaim that he’s a baby. I’m curious how he’s going to take the new addition.

I have had such an outpouring of love and support with this pregnancy. I’ve been astounded by the number of people who have brought by gifts, and offered to help in any way. Just yesterday our neighbor Barb brought over a gift for each of the boys and an outfit set for the baby. Another friend offered to grab me groceries if I ever need it. Every Sunday some new sister smiles as she hands me a gift bag. One of the things I love most about pregnancy is how it unifies us as women. I never feel more female than when I’m pregnant, and nursing. In preparation for the psychological aspect of child birth I recently read this article. It really resonated with me. For any of you who have followed this blog, this won’t come as a surprise to you. Anders birth story was a certain account of the power of women. It’s something I’m rather passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I do my fair share of complaining about pregnancy- especially at this stage, but I also really cherish those pre-sleep snuggles with my little one, when I’ll chase her limbs around my belly, and seek out her little back to rub. I’ve loved decorating her nursery, because it’s carved out time for me to think about her, dream about her, pray for her. A few weeks back I started to get waves of anxiety whenever I thought about my approaching status as Mother of Three. How was I ever going to have enough love, patience, understanding, and creativity to lovingly and joyfully care for three children? It kept me up at night. But all it took was a slightly longer prayer session to be reminded of the source of all Goodness, and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Only He can gift me with charity, endurance, energy, and perspective beyond my own. I believe He wants me to enjoy this upcoming period of my life, despite the challenge of it. I’ve put my faith in Him that He will empower me to do so, despite the fatigue, pain, and hardship.

Happy 2nd Birthday Anders!

IMG_4176It’s always fun to look back and reflect on the beginning of a life. Reading back over past blog posts (here and here) I was reminded of that significant day two years ago when this sweet chubby boy entered our life. He has blessed our home with such joy, camaraderie, and laughter. His quick smile, and spunky personality has changed all of us. We all smile more. As his vocabulary has increased his personality has become even more pronounced. He loves to chat, be involved, and spark conversation. He’s always in for a good joke, and if no one else has one, he’ll come up with something. His exuberance and celebratory style are contagious. (Bare bottomed, he often comes galloping out of the bathroom after his recent potting tries yelling “Come, Come!!” with a broad smile and bright eyes.) His emotions are intense, be they joy or frustration, and he can lash out with surprising tenacity and furor. He slapped Tom hard across the face just this afternoon, after Tom dared put him in his car seat! Needless to say, emotional coaching is ongoing.


We celebrated Anders’ birthday today. Scotland was SO excited about preparing for it last night that he was up until 10:00 or later, helping me decorate a poster for Anders’ door, sneakily stuffing balloons in Anders’ room, and creating his own little surprises- toys in a sock and our “Happy Birthday Hamster!” book at his door. He just kept coming out with a new idea of how we could make Anders’ birthday special. It was really sweet. I scored a whole bin of Playmobile toys on Craigslist. (Along with the Strider balance bike below.) The lock and key on the fold up stable was a favorite.

IMG_4121I was giddy about giving Anders a balance bike for his birthday. I was sure he would adore it, and I got it spot on. We were blessed with a sunny afternoon today and went to the church parking lot to try it out- he didn’t want to get off. He kept saying “I Fast!” and “Watch out Daddy, I coming!” (As he slowly walked his bike towards us.)
IMG_4087 Anders is very aware of what it means to be a big boy, and this bike just seemed the perfect entrance gift. A true sign that he had arrived!

IMG_4190-1-2IMG_4194Anders was so proud of the cake I made him. When our friends the Hulets arrived for dinner, he galloped over to the kitchen saying “My cake! My cake! Look!” He blew out the candles as soon as Tom lit them, with surprising accuracy. It was a simple birthday, but a sweet one. I took every opportunity I could to hug him, kiss him, and tell him how much we all love him!

I took some time the other night to write some memories/thoughts/milestones of Anders’ that I don’t want to forget:

  • Cleaning up floor then putting hand towels in the “warming drawer”- so they were put away. (It took me a while to figure this out, as he will often clean up spills of his own accord when I’m not in the kitchen. I kept wondering where all the hand towels were going!)
  • He’ll often say “Sorry, sorry” sort of sotto voce if he bumps into you, or gets in  your way. He loves shoes and will often help us all find our shoes- “Here you go Mommy!” Earlier this week as we finished bagging our groceries he exclaimed: “We did it!”
  • Comfort items: Lovey, Chippers, and blankie- andy one of his Aden and Anais blankets. “Lovey” (a half bunny half blanket little thing) is his favorite, he’ll hold it and rub his fingers across its silky ears over and over.
  • Mimics. If he sees me wave at someone he’ll quickly look up and wave. If he notices I always put in his water bottle in one corner of his bed, then he will start doing that too. He seems to be a creature of habit, and loves structure and patterns.
  • Likes puzzles, and patterns. Sorts things by color of his own accord.
  • Spicy-mmm! (recent change in appetite, less picky now. Thank goodness!)
  • He calls all classical music “Mouse” since watching the Nutcracker.
  • “’kay”- pretty logical. You can talk him through most things.
  • Favorite toys: Trains, cars, blocks, Duplos, dollhouse, more into “guys”
  • Identifies women as Mommy’s and the elderly as Poppas or Grandmas.
  • Prays independently. Loves to pray. (Reminded me to pray the other morning when we woke up together, before we got out of bed.)
  • Loves to dance. At the end of movies when the music comes on he’ll jump up then turn around and hold both hands out, welcoming Tom or I to join him.
  • Potty training- “Come come!!!!” Treat?!
  • People comment on how “content” he is.
  • As of yet never any separation anxiety. Scotland usually walks him to nursery.
  • Loves to sing the hymns and have his own hymnbook at church.
  • Very aware and sensitive about what is his. (Christmas really helped this- as he seems assured that we would give him things that would just be his. Often if you say “Yes that’s yours, but would you like to share?” He’ll happy offer the toy to a friend.
  • “You okay?” Often checks up on Scotland or I if we indicate that we were hurt.
  • One nap.
  • Loves walks and sitting in the stroller.
  • “Myself!” He loves to be independent. Clipping his top seatbelt, setting the table, putting away the silverware, cleaning up after spills, carrying in the groceries, cooking, cleaning up toys, closing doors.
  • Very aware of how he can help- grabs the dustpan for me, when he sees I’ve created a pile, puts the laundry soap in the dishwasher when I’m filling it, “Help you?” He’ll ask, if he sees me carrying a basket of laundry, or a bag of pellets, and start “helping me” carry the item.
  • Silly. He loves to laugh and make his brother laugh. He’s picked up on what some of Scotland’s friends think is funny. Using words like “stinky” or “diaper” in hopes of getting a laugh.
  • Opinionated. He doesn’t like being mistreated, and will let you know LOUDLY if he doesn’t agree with the course of things. Can throw a royal tantrum- spitting, yelling “No” or “Not nice!” and occasionally hitting or throwing things.
  • Fake cries, coming up to me to report injuries.
  • “Sta-was” (Star Wars) when he saw me return a star wars book Tom had been reading to Scotland, and sometimes Anders at night.
  • Calls Scotland “Scots.”
  • If you ask him what his name is he’ll point to himself and say “me.”
  • Loves to run, and jump. Always jumps off curbs. Galloping.
  • Social. He loves being a part of preschool, going to playdates, and being one of the “big boys” when Scotland’s friends come over. He’s learning all their names and will say “Hi Noah” with his low raspy voice when he sees him.
  • Pats on the back. He will still give you pats on the back when he hugs you, which for whatever reason, totally melts me- it seems so mature.
  • “Toes!” I love uncoding his limited vocabulary. He’ll say “toes” to indicate that his pants need to rolled up, that he has something stuck on his foot, or that the floor is cold.
  • He’s using three word sentences all the time now. I really adore this age and their excitement to communicate. He LOVES to talk, and will fill in sentences with non-words if need be. He labels everything he sees and we’re often surprised at what words he knows. He said “Sta wahs” the other day when he saw me returning a Star Wars book at the library.
  • When he thinks something is really funny he’ll cover his mouth with his hand and rock his head as he laughs.
  • He loves finding the duck hidden on every page of our Usborne “Farmyard Tales” books.
  • He loves doing “Reading book” and taking piano lessons, always reminding me to “Bow” when the lesson is over.
  • He continues to watch attentively during Scotland’s Taekwondo classes, and practices the moves at home- often under the tutelage of Scotland. Similarly, he has learned a good portion of the sun salutation, thanks to our yoga sessions together.
  • He really enjoys our “learning time” together when Scotland is at preschool. We do puzzles, play games, and work on other enriching activities together.
  • Loves books. He sits and listens attentively to all four-five books we read before quiet time and bed time each day, often commenting on the pictures.
  • “I don’ wannit” – when he doesn’t like something.


(As a side note, Scotland was cruising on this balance bike today too. It turns out the slight slope of our church’s parking lot is ideal for learning to balance!)

The sweet things in life

My boys are really sweet. I often get overwhelmed by their aggressive behavior, insensitive interactions, and disrespect; but I find that when I dwell on the sweet things they do- those tender moments multiply. So, a list:

-Scotland is still leaving “stockings” for Tom by his bedside. Yesterday, his sock hung from his bedstand drawer and inside was our Happy Family Dad toy.

-I left two cookies from our last night “family night” treat for the boys, and told them they could eat them before breakfast while I did Yoga. Together they decided that they would each save a piece of their cookie for Dad.

-Often when going downstairs, Anders will stop at the top and say “Bye Mom,” and blow me a kiss.

-I’m very strict with treats. So when I loosen up and unexpectedly offer a cookie after lunch Scotland almost always gives me a kiss and hug.

– Anders has the best manners these days. He tilts his head when he says please, and says “Tank ew Momma” anytime I give him anything.

-Both boys go running when Tom gets home, exclaiming “Daddy!!!”

-The other night during movie night both boys joined me on the rocking chair. Reclined back enjoying “The Tale of Desperaux” I felt immensely happy. Two boys beside me, and a little gal kicking happily inside.

-Anders often struggles to wake up. From time to time I’ll go in and sit on the end of his bed, he’ll lay his head on my lap and slowly come to, as I rub his back.

-Scotland has learned that sleep is to be respected- thanks to many post call Dad days. The other morning Anders had woken up at 5:45 and gone back to bed with me, Scotland was up around 6:30, peeked in on us, and seeing us asleep closed the door so as not to disturb us with the light in the adjacent room- and then played quietly.

-When Anders will snuggle in close to me and say “Momma!” with a sigh, when he joins me after his ridiculously early wake ups.

-Anders has gotten into the habit of waking up with Tom at 5:45. (He now typically wakes me up before Tom’s alarm does.) They have developed this little ritual of Anders sitting on Tom’s lap and eating dry cheerios for a few minutes before Tom brings him back down to bed to finish the night off with me.

-One night when Anders was saying the prayer he said “tank dee for Momma!” probably ten times. His prayers are some of the highlights of my days. He often says: “Deer Hev Fathah. Dank dee for Momma. Dank dee for Daddy. Dank dee for Scots. Dank dee for food. Jesus Christ. Amen.” He can say them completely unassisted, and I’m always touched when he’ll add something Dank dee for cars, or books or something. Who gets to say the prayer has recently become a fight (flip flopping from the previous fight when nobody wanted to say the prayer. I guess I’ll call this an improvement? Here’s hoping we can get over the fighting now!)

-The other morning Anders and I were snuggling in bed. He was as content as could be until he heard his brother scampering around upstairs. He quickly stirred and said “Scots!” and slithering out of bed said “I go!”

-Often when Scotland or I will stub our toes, or say “Ouch!” Anders will come up and ask with a tilted head and sweet voice “You okay?” He’s even taken to giving Scotland hugs when he accidentally hurts him.

-Today I was watching a friends two sons. The younger is just one. Anders mothered him the entire time, showing him toys, taking him to the window to watch the cars- and pointing them out to him, and making sure he didn’t get into trouble.

-Scotland’s willingness to incorporated Anders in his play, and teach him various skills always touches me. He’s consistent with his Tae Kwon Do lessons. He’s always very encouraging. Squeaking “Good!” in a high pitched voice, when Anders follows orders. This evening as I was preparing dinner he came running into the kitchen: “Anders is going the potty.” He had helped Anders with his pants and diaper, and coached him, until Anders was able to release four small poops. After each one, Scotland washed out the potty and encouraged him to do more. I gave them each 4 mini marshmallows for their efforts. Satisfied they went back into the bathroom for more. I actually had to say “Okay, no more going potty. It’s time for dinner!” Both teacher and student were ecstatic with their progress.

-Scotland gets so excited when Anders says a new word. “Mom, did you know Anders can say egg?!”

-Anders is becoming quite the ham, and there is nothing he won’t do if it will make his brother belly laugh. They’ll get going and then anything becomes hilarious.

-I had a rough night a few days ago and wasn’t very patient with the boys. Anders came out of being put in his room, a few tears running down his face, and his head down. I apologized for being impatient and bent down to give him a love. He gave me a sweet, full hug and patted me on the back, total forgiveness in his eyes.

I try to savor all the times when either boy will just nuzzle their head into me while we’re reading stories, or randomly come up and hug my legs. I’m sure there will be a day when such open affection is rare. They crave affection. I’m always surprised with how delighted they are when I force tons of kisses and hugs on them. They’ll shout “No, Stop!” but their bright eyes and wide smiles makes it clear that they, like me, love to me shown they’re adored.


Brotherly love

Last week, we set up the toddler bed in Scotland’s room, thinking we’d give the shared room a try. It resulted in many late nights (full of fun for the boys) followed by days of emotional duress and conflict when their fatigue hit them. It didn’t take long to realize that, when other options were available, the shared bedroom wasn’t our thing.

So, Saturday we took down the crib and moved the toddler bed into Anders room. The last few nights there has been much screaming and tantruming at the door by Anders- who fortunately can’t quite open the door if closed tightly. The length of these tantrums has grown shorter, and I was hopeful for tonight. As I’d hoped, his crying ended soon after it’d begun. I sat downstairs reading, and feeling smug that our transition was near complete. About 30 minutes later I hear “Mommy, Mommy?” in a low husky voice. At first I assume it’s Scotland, but no, it’s Anders. He crawls up on the rocking chair with me to watch the video I was watching on my phone about how our church helps refugees. Scotland came down a few moments later saying “I want to cuddle!” One on each side we sat snug under a blanket as I explained the sad predicament of millions of people, we pondered what we could do. Then I sent them back to bed. Scotland happily obliged, and fortunately, Anders followed suit. They walked upstairs, single file. I didn’t hear a peep or sound afterwards. Could they possibly have just gone back to their beds? After 15 minutes I came up to investigate. Anders door was closed, his bedside lamp shining under the door. I quietly opened the door to find his bed empty. I tiptoed down the hall to check if he was in bed with Scotland. Not in bed, but happily asleep on the floor near him.

My heart warmed at the love of my two boys. They are the best of friends. Witnessing their sweet relationship is one of my favorite parts of motherhood. They may not be permanently sharing a room, but I secretly hope that there are many nights when they sneak in to cuddle up together.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin carving:

We started the holiday festivities off at FHE on Tuesday when we carved pumpkins, halloween music playing. Scotland carved a scary face, Tom a Tiger, and I a bat. Anders painted a pumpkin. Tom had him help him clean out his pumpkin. At first Anders refused but finally got in on the fun. Scotland was meticulous with his cleaning. Even spending a good amount of time at the sink- washing it out before he felt it was ready to be carved. We all enjoyed roasted pumpkin seeds for a treat!

It took a bit of encouraging before Anders would stick his hand in.

But he finally did.

Friday morning Scotland had his preschool halloween party. The two “outings Moms”- Caroline especially went above and beyond to create this darling party for them- complete with a spooky lunch and foaming witches brew!

Preschool Party:

Church Party:

We had such a fun sweet Halloween with our little guys. Friday night we had a blast at our church’s harvest festival. A great variety of games- life size angry birds, hoop fest, cake walk, donut eating contest, face painting, magnetic fishing and bag decorating all made for a memorable night. Anders participated in everything, and had to be nearly dragged away from each activity because he just didn’t want to stop! They finished the night with the trunk or treat and were overjoyed to dump out their bags and see their spoils when they got home. Scotland, happily shared his with everyone.

Sweet Bro. Geddes letting Scotland try out his real sword.

I loved all the creativity that went into the activities. Our past bishop made this angry bird catapult based off his wife (our RS president’s) idea!

The High Priests put together this fishing activity with real poles.

This was Anders’ favorite though- balls!

Note the ring on the pumpkin- go Anders.

Trick or Treating:

Batman, Lion, Warrior Woman, and Stick man (sans mask)

Saturday night we went trick or treating in our neighborhood. It’s a sweet street, quiet with few trick or treaters and few houses. Once again it was darling to see Anders be such an active participant, he want to carry his bag, and knock at each door. He quickly got a hang of the “choose a candy” but not the “only take one!” He vigorously roared for everyone, and Scotland was super social introducing each of us and telling what we were dressed up as for Halloween. He was SOOO proud of his batman costume. I found the outfit at Goodwill and he was determined to wear it despite it being a bit too small. We borrowed the cape and mask from friends. Boy did he strut his stuff; running to feel his cape fly out behind him and showing off moves when requested at the doorstep. He was polite and grateful, and I beamed with pride at his maturity and kindness.

We came home, examined candy, and ate some while we watched Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.

It was so fun to have Tom join us this year. We had him home ALL weekend, which was treat enough for me. The boys just soak him up when he’s here. Anders, who has been sick all week, wanted to be in his arms as much as possible. And Scotland was constantly requesting another session of LEGO creating, fort building, or some other sort of play.


It’s fall, we went on vacation

Summer has been over for a good month, but it’s really felt like it the last week or so. There’s been a culinary shift. We eat pretty seasonally, since the bulk of our diet is vegetable based. Butternut squash has replaced green beans, applesauce- fresh berries. Today I made a batch of Myrtle’s applesauce. Grandma Myrtle was a dear friend whom we adopted in Cleveland as Scotland’s “Grandma.” She cooked great southern food, including a scrumptious applesauce. I hope I never forget the time we stopped by to visit and, as was the norm, she sat us down at her table to eat. Scotland was just starting on solids, but I gave him a taste of what amounted to apple pie in puree form, sans crust. He downed the whole bowl so fast I hardly got a taste. Myrtle happily supplied me with a large second helping. The next fall I called to ask the secret to her fabulous sauce: “Oh, you just cook down a variety of apples then add butter, sugar, and cinnamon until it tastes good!” Butter! I wouldn’t have come to that on my own. So today, I made a batch of applesauce that even Myrtle would agree “tastes good” with plenty of butter, sugar and Penzies apple pie spice. It’s divine. I think of Myrtle often, I miss her, but I feel closer to her now, that she’s in heaven. I like to think she can hear me when I talk to her, and that she checks in on me, just like she used to. We love you, Grandma Myrtle.

We spent the week in the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island specifically. One of the perks of Tom’s job is that he gets four weeks of vacation. And they can only be taken in two one week chunks and one two week chunk. We can request certain months for vacation, but specific dates are chosen for us, and they are selected in July for the following year. It forces us to plan, and make use of his time, as it is so special. It also means they don’t always coincide with family get togethers. I hate that Tom often misses my family reunions, but we appreciate that it gives us time as a little family to get away and make memories. We rented a small cabin that was right on the water. We spent our three days there playing in the sand, hiking, fishing, cooking over the fire and BBQ, eating outside, driving around the island, and enjoying the resort’s spa. The first day was gorgeous, the second rainy, and the third overcast. We made the most of the weather, hiking despite the rain, and enjoying family time playing games and reading books inside, but we were all thrilled the the rain cleared the third day so we could return to the beach, the pier, and the breathtaking outdoors. I’m really glad that we chose a place on the water, because Orcas Island has very limited public access to the water. The place we stayed West Beach Resort, had a good stretch of beach and a long dock from which to take in the scenery. The boys got drenched and totally sandy a few times each day. I was grateful that a change of clothes was only a few strides away! The ferry ride there is a good fifty minutes of sheer beauty. Islands dot the landscape in layers, with Mount Baker faint as a backdrop.

Now for pictures:

Day 1:

Ferry Ride

I tried hard to capture the beauty of the islands on our way in. But you just can’t capture the expanse. They seem to go on endlessly. It made me reflect on how incredible the human eye is. What a creative masterpiece. Despite my fancy camera, it couldn’t come close to capturing what I could see. 

Scotland was most excited about “discovering secret passage ways” in the ferry. Something he and Tom did last time they rode the ferry together. Tom as always, was willing to indulge his appetite, so the three of them set off to try out every stair well, elevator, and hallway. Leaving me to savor the wind in my hair, and the beauty before me.

I was determined to spot any whales that were had to be spotted. We were rounding the corner from Lopez island to Orcas when there they were two orca whales! We saw them dive in and out of the water several times, just as the captain instructed us all to return to our vehicles. We waited and watched a little longer before a firmer voice repeated the demand. I was tickled pink that my persistence had paid off, my wish granted, and that my two boys saw their first whales in the wild! (Lucky ducks!)

Our cabin- #4.

Beachfront property. Sigh. Scotland suggested we buy a house by the water in the future. I’m right there with you bud. (Well, except for the constant supply of sandy wet laundry!) 

Scotter and I had a blast building a “fish trap” on the beach the first afternoon, while the two other boys slept. I found that waterproof pants, boots, and rubber gloves made for a much more pleasant beach experience for me. Then I was willing to get “into it” just as much as Scotland, without getting squeamish about the bugs jumping out of the sand, or wet pants. I’d wished I would have sprung for waterproof pants for Scotland before this trip. He may be getting thigh-high waders for Christmas!

Our first night, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. A real treat since we didn’t see the sun the rest of the time we were there. We had tin foil dinners and s’mores for dinner the first night- note my boys there around the fire in the bottom right. (The tin foil dinners were a huge success- They had precooked and marinated BBQ chicken, diced baked potato, corn and onion slices. The BBQ flavored everything and the fire gave it all a delicious smoked flavor. The fact that everything was pre-cooked was key- it was just a matter of heating it up!)Day 2:

The second day it rained all day. But we were determined to make the most of it, so we set off in the morning to explore Moran State Park.

All started well. Anders and I were fully suited up- totally rain proof. Tom and Scotland were only covered on top, and had water proof shoes.

We chose the mountain lake loop, and stopped to play at the lake about a fourth a mile in. A poor decision. Scotland was thrilled to play in the water, as always, but fell in not longer after getting there. Which didn’t deter him from having a fabulous time at the lake, but did result in a less than happy camper once we hit the trail again. Let’s just say we didn’t make it the full four miles.

The boys would have happily played by the lake the whole day, throwing rocks, building boats, and being boys.

Note Ander’s rock!

After a long play session at the lake we set off again from the trail. But what followed was a good half hour of whining and crying from Scotland, negotiating/pleading/demanding from Tom and I, until finally I grabbed his hand and started skipping along belting out such greats as “Do you Ears Hang Low” and “Shinnamerinkadinkadink!” which lessened his displeasure, but didn’t completely stop it until I made him the soloist of “The Wheels on the Bus-” “The baby on the bus says: motioning to him” He immediately grew silent, laughing as over and over I sang the prompt “The baby on the bus says Scotter, that’s your part!” He thought it was hilarious and requested I sing that song the rest of the way back. Despite the emotional duress Scotland’s cold, wet state brought upon all of us we still enjoyed a beautiful, though brief hike.

Thanks to Anders rain suit. He was happy as a clam!

On our way home we saw a bunch of deer and then a huge bullfrog hoping across the road! I HAD to pull over. It’s not everyday a boy gets to see a frog that big. Of course I had to catch it, because well, that’s what you do when you see a frog right?!

The rest of the day was spent working on the Snap Circuit, reading, and goofing off in the cabin. We did head out before dinner to buy a fresh salmon to grill up, which was fabulous! Tom and I enjoyed seeing more of the island. We at dinner on the patio, listening to the rain pitter pater as we enjoyed grilled cheese and tomato soup, and salmon.

Day 3:

Anders and I were up first so we sneaked out to enjoy the early morning quiet so the other two could sleep.

We were rewarded with a bald eagle site-ing as well as fish, crabs, a starfish and of course lots of sea birds. With the rain cleared Anders enjoyed his breakfast out next to the water, and Scotter enjoyed a pre-breakfast sand session.

After breakfast, I took Scotland fishing. We rented a pole and tried our luck with hotdogs at the end of the dock. (As was recommended.) He had several tiny fish bite, and several larger fish sniff, but no takers. I was proud of his patience, and persistence, but after a good half hour lacking in excitement, he decided to move on to other things. I was surprised at my desire to teach him to fish, to show him the joys of fishing, the thrill of teasing the fish, the art of imitating the fly, worm, etc. I don’t think of myself as a fisherman, but I fished every summer growing up on our family backpacking trips, and I can appreciate the thrill of taking in a fish! I’ll admit I was disappointed that I didn’t have a license, and couldn’t try my own hand at snagging those whoppers down below.

We visited Eastsound that afternoon, it’s a charming tiny little town with a couple streets full of darling shops and restaurants. I’m always a sucker for the beautiful potted flowers tourist towns such as these support.

Day 4:

We headed back to the mainland around noon. After eating a scrumptious brunch at the Island Skillet. Fortunately the clouds had blown off and it was, again, a gorgeous clear ferry ride. We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Mt. Erie in Anacortes. The view was beyond breathtaking. Almost unworldly. Pictures can’t come close:

For future reference here’s my brief review of the vacation: We were really grateful we chose to rent a cabin instead of tent it. For one it was really wet, and we all appreciated our sleep. We had more struggles than we would have liked with Scotland. (I’m really appreciating our spacious house after our tiny cabin.) If we go again I’ll be sure to supply Scotland with water-proof gear, so he can go out whenever he wants without getting chilled. Next time I’ll plan it more thoroughly. There was a lot of “So what do we do now?” The indecision was hard on all of us. I liked having a kitchen, even though we did eat primarily pre-prepared foods. While it was nice to be there on the shoulder season because of it being quieter, and a little cheaper. I think we’ll go when the weather is more reliably nice in the future. We made the best of it, but we ended up in the cabin more than any of us would have liked. All in all we had a wonderful time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to leave behind the projects, stresses, and distractions of our home for some wonderful family time in a gorgeous place!

Anders: 18 months

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.

Where’s Anders?

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!

Toothed grin

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.

A post.

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!