Moving

Tom and I have been talking about moving a lot these last few months. With applications and interviews for fellowship positions occurring, we’ve been forced to face the future. We love so many things about living in Seattle, but different training opportunities for Tom and a lower cost of living are forcing us to look else where. The thought of relocating is always followed by a mixed bag of emotions for me. I love novelty, and the thought of exploring a new city/area excites me. There are things about Seattle that I wish were different (namely the lack of sunshine for much of the year.) So the thought of living some place sunnier thrills me. But when I move past the niceties of those changes, and face the other realities I’m brought to tears by all I will miss when we move from here: dear friends, a wonderful  church family, and frequent visits to and from my parents and younger sisters. Then there is the home we’ve built here- the slide and fort out back, the raspberry plot that is finally producing abundantly, my perennial beds that are finally filling out, an organized home where everything has its place. All theses things take years to establish and the thought of starting again. . .

Already thoughts of what to take and what to leave have kept me up at night. Do we just sell it all and start afresh? We’d save thousands in moving expenses. But then, would we find ourselves in a new place, with a whole host of things to acquire? Or do we bring along the things we’ve come to enjoy, making the transition less severe? The minimalist side of me gets giddy with the thought of lightning our load considerably, but the practical side knows that much of the things we have, we use, and re-acquiring them would be burdensome.

Then I’ll stay up late looking at housing options in the places we’re considering, which throws open a whole new list of questions. How big of a house do we really need? Do our kids really need their own bedrooms? What length of commute is ideal? How much should we spend on a house? Would we be okay living in a townhouse without a yard? Do we have it in us to renovate another house? Maybe we’d love living in a track neighborhood with a neighborhood pool and playground. Or maybe I want to homestead.  I’ll try to explore each option in my head, predicting ramifications, and puzzling over how each choice would effect our family.

Whenever it gets too daunting, I’ll project myself 30 years. Life will be  more interesting to look back on if we mix it up every several years. Experiencing a new part of the country, with a different culture, and different demands will change us, and shape us in new ways. We’ll be able to relate and connect with a larger group of people. We’ll have a wider range of experiences. We’ll be more complex and hopefully interesting. We’ll widen our sphere of influence.

At these moments of decision and change, I’m ever more grateful for the gift of the spirit that blesses us with peace.

 

Chiara Jade Foutz: a birth story

Birth is a sacred time. I believe it should be hallowed, reverenced, prepared for. As I alluded to in this post, I spent the weeks leading up to Chiara’s birth preparing emotionally and spiritually. I wasn’t surprised when my due date came and went, and had a feeling that she would be born on Tuesday. I told my midwife this at my appointment the Thursday before and she exclaimed “Alright! That’s my day! Let’s do it!” and we gave each other a high 10.  When my water broke around 9:00PM on Monday April 4th, I was excited our baby was coming! As is procedure I called the midwives to let them know, they suggested I come in, but as I wasn’t having any contractions I suggested I wait and hour and let things start happening. Tom and I busied ourselves gathering our stuff. (Tom was SO excited!) An hour and a half later I checked back to inform them that I was still not contracting. We agreed that I’d come in, and just make sure the baby was doing okay. Caroline Hulet came over to sleep with the boys, and we headed to Northwest Hospital. Fetal monitoring showed that the baby was doing great, but the light meconium staining in the amniotic fluid resulted in our having to spend the night at the hospital. The midwife was sure that things would get moving soon and that the need for inducing or augmenting labor wouldn’t be necessary. Though she informed us that if I didn’t go into labor on my own, they would start me on pitocin in the morning. I spent a long sleepless night anxiously wishing my body into labor. I had heard that pitocin contractions were so much more painful than natural contractions and that you just didn’t get induced without an epidural because the pain was so much more intense. I worried about my hopes for an unmedicated birth. Determined to get things moving Tom and I set off to walk the halls of the hospital the next morning. (One administrator who saw us on our rounds later told me, she originally saw me from the back and thought I was a visitor, and then when she saw I was pregnant got concerned I was trying to run away!) Our speed walks were unsuccessful so around 8:00AM they started the pitocin. They fed it in super slowly (too gradually it turns out due to a miscommunication) so I didn’t start to experience painful contractions until around 12:30. We filled the morning, chatting, walking the halls, and generally trying to pass time. My mom arrived around 10:00. (Caroline took the boys to her house in the morning, and then my Dad and Dantz picked them up around 10:00 and cared for them the rest of the day.) The waiting game was hard on me. I was genuinely eager for hard contractions! (I also had a headache from uncomfortable hospital pillows and sleepless night.)

Due to the pitocin, the baby had to be constantly monitored, which meant that every 15 minutes the two nurses (Becky and Maggie) had to adjust the bands to get them to pick up baby’s heartbeat. I suppose the fact that I couldn’t sit still didn’t help! I kept hoping that walking the halls would speed things up. Finally, around 2:15 active labor started. I was so relieved, this is what I had prepared for!  This time around the birthing ball was my best friend, with my arms resting on the end of the bed I circled on the ball while Tom rubbed my lower back. Together we worked our way through the contractions. It was very much a united front, Tom was there rubbing my back, massaging my neck, and lending support through all two hours of active labor. Because of the need for monitoring the jets on the jacuzzi weren’t an option this time- which was too bad, since I had really appreciated that approach with Anders.  I got up and walked from time to time but the contractions hurt so much more when I was standing that while it felt like it lent more “progress” it didn’t feel worth it. Not to mention laboring in the hall, with so many people looking on, was awkward.  I feel the need to be very focused when I’m in active labor. Breathing and relaxing through the contractions is what allows me to cope/relax into the contraction. And having so many people in the room through the entirety of the labor wasn’t ideal. But with my eyes closed and music playing I was able to focus inward, and be one with the baby and Tom.

I was very aware of transition, and fortunately, because I identified it, was able to encourage myself through it, saying “I got this, I got this, I got this.” But I found myself suddenly annoyed by the two nurses who were never more than five feet away, watching and adjusting the fetal monitors. I suddenly couldn’t stand how strongly they smelled of purel, nor did I care for Toms un-showered un-deodorized state. I grew annoyed that things were taking so long.

While in transition, I switched to a deep child’s poise on the bed after learning that I was only measuring at a 6. (This was probably around 3:50)  As I lay there in child’s poise, my face resting in the pillow, Tom continually rubbing my back, I realized that I was controlling and preventing the tail end of the contraction from running the full length of my body. As soon as I relaxed into the final part of the contraction, it started running to the very depth of my pelvis and I went from a 6 to complete in 15 minutes. (Which meant the neo-natalogist wasn’t present, as they had hoped.)

I feel the take home lesson from labor this time, was trusting my body’s timing. I was so sick of waiting that I really wanted to push things along and my midwife said several times, “There is no need to rush.” Interestingly, it was my own involvement that resulted in the slowing of labor- even though I felt more control- I was in my own way. My body knows how to labor and I had to trust my maternal instincts and not my logical brain.

I needed someone to coach me through the breathing in the final stages but nobody did. I lost my focus, whimpering at the intense pain of the ring of fire and tissue ripping. I started hyperventilating which caused my arms to go numb. I was in an awkward position for the pushing stage, I didn’t feel very set up or supported like I had with Anders when Mary gave me detailed instruction. I suppose it’s because Michelle knew it wasn’t going to take long. I held Tom’s hand on the left and my Mom’s on the right  I gave two or three good pushes and then Michelle had me continue to push between contractions (because Chiara’s heart rate dropped to 50) and with that and two more pushes she was out! Around the third push I reached down and felt the top third of her head. This brought me such intense joy and I couldn’t help exclaim “My baby! Oh, My baby!” After the fourth push I felt Chiara kick inside of me- and I laughed as I said “She just kicked!” One more push and she was out and on my chest.  I can’t express the intense joy I felt. My eyes brimmed with tears and my lips spread wide in a smile as I held my sweet tiny little girl. I couldn’t get over how small she seemed, how beautiful she was, how much love I felt for her.

After Chiara was born she stayed skin to skin on my chest for over an hour. The nurses suctioned her, wiped her up, and checked her out without removing her. (Chiara immediately worked her way to my breast and started nursing)  Tom stayed at my shoulder, his arms encircling us. I felt such a strong bond between us this time. We were truly in it together.  I sensed more joy and confidence from Tom, more assurance and peace that “I had this.” He knew what to do, or what to ask if he didn’t.  Despite the flurry of activity from the nurses and midwife after the birth, it felt like it was just the three of us Tom, Chiara and I- wrapped in this warm light of love and unity.

Tom left to get Scotland and Anders (and my Dad and Dantzel) around 5:00. The boys were so excited to see and hold Chiara and were so sweet in the hospital. They enjoyed the celebratory meal of pizza and pop that Grandpa brought. We had bought each a small present (a foam sword and shield to “protect their sister.”) And when asked if he was ready for his present Scotland said “Baby’s the present!” When they were getting ready to go Anders asked “Baby come?” They enjoyed sitting on the bed with me and pushing all the buttons, laughing hysterically as the bed moved in all different directions.

Tom gave Chiara her first bath that evening around 10:00. (New research suggests you wait at least six hours.) I spent the night with Chiara sleeping on my chest- in complete bliss. Finally, my baby had arrived!

Now in pictures:

Brothers/ Grandparents visit:

First Bath:

Morning After:

Heading home:

It’s crazy to think that more than a week has passed since this sweet girl entered our lives. We fall in love with her a little more everyday. She loves to be cuddled close- preferring as much body contact as possible. She’ll often nuzzle her way under my chin, so I can feel her little breath on my neck as she sleeps. She’s a great nurser- patiently working with me to get a good latch. She sleeps well during the day- in the Ergo, swing, or Daddy’s lap. She isn’t keen on sleeping on her back, and so we’ve taken to letting her sleep on our chests in the rocking chair, or in the swing at night. She’s easily soothed, and, so far, seems unperturbed by the loudness and craziness around her. She likes to be wrapped tight, and enjoys her pacifier. For the first few days she mostly opened just the left eye, and even still she’s slow to open her right eye. The boys love to hold her, and are always excited when I invite them to help with her in some way. Despite being an average sized baby, we all still can’t get over how tiny she is (compared with Anders). She has long thin fingers and long thin feet. We adore her!

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.

 

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!

Equality in parenting

My sister-in-law sent this article around our family a few days ago. I have many thoughts about it, but haven’t had a chance to share them. I’ll do so here.

This article may be true for many couples. But I’m not sure it can be accurately said of mine. I think my husband’s job very likely meets if not rivals mine in stress and intensity. Interestingly, we are both in service occupations, and caring for people is difficult. Both of us have been thrown into jobs with little direction, and on site teaching. Both are required to do tasks we’ve never done before. Both of our actions poise potentially life threatening consequences.  Okay, maybe my job doesn’t qualify for that statement, but I’ll admit to constant worry about the long term consequences of my actions. Both of us deal with sleep deprivation- he, more so these days. Both are forced to multitask. So, as Ms. Senior says, “Its about the perception of equality.” At least when comparing careers, for me, we are equal- if not, he wins out on the more stressful, less-desirable front. Granted, I have only two children, and they are both perhaps on the “easy” side. And Tom is in the most intense year of what is already a grueling residency. I may have to revisit this article in, ahem, six years.

That being said the article did confirm that I am not alone on two fronts:

I loved this description of an emotion I feel often:

“Being compelled to divide and subdivide your time doesn’t just compromise your productivity and lead to garden-variety discombobulation. It also creates a feeling of urgency—a sense that no matter how tranquil the moment, no matter how unpressured the circumstances, there’s always a pot somewhere that’s about to boil over.”

And to go along with it, the final kicker:

“They found that while leisure time went a long way toward relaxing fathers, it did far less to subdue anxiety in mothers. So what, you may ask, did calm the mothers?

Simple: Seeing their husbands make a bigger effort to reduce the pandemonium in the house.”

I’ll admit to feeling both comforted and annoyed by the realization that I’m not alone in wishing my hubs would assert himself more in the maintenance of the house. (He’s fabulous about caring for the kids! He always puts the boys to bed if he’s home.) When I let my negative brain kick in I started to feel the “Uh! Men!” slur arise. Which I quickly released, because I believe polarization is damaging. (Did you read the Pope’s speech?) But I was reminded of the many times when I’ve tried to suppress (usually unsuccessfully) frustration when Tom requested his day off be a “fun family day.” His desire for relaxation is always justified, and his intent to connect meaningfully with our boys is admirable. But more often than not I feel overwhelmed by the mounting list of tasks that our home requires. And the thought of once again tackling them all single handedly, almost brings me to tears. Wait, who am I kidding, I always have six hands tackling these tasks. Oh, that’s the problem! Somehow research proving that I am not alone in finding “relaxation” less than relaxing made me feel less like an uptight nag, and more of a normal woman. (Though logically I can appreciate this strength of men. Letting things go, relaxing.)

All this being said, there was a day or two there where these thoughts simmered and made me a little angsty. And then this happened, because, well, I married a saint: Tom called to say he was going to come home early. He could listen to his lecture at the library. I suggested he watch it from home, while the boys were doing their quiet time so I could run errands, etc. He watched his lecture, took the boys to Tae Kwan Do, and to my greatest delight made sure that Scotland attended to his chore of picking up the basement, and then made dinner. You better believe that that night as we watched “Cinderella” as a family (fabulous movie, if you haven’t seen the new one.) I was as relaxed and as present as could be. It was one of those idealic family evenings. The love was plentiful, and I did my best to etch it in my memory forever.

What made for the success? Two things. First, I was clear about my needs and expectations. “How about you come home so I can run out alone.” and “Scotland has to complete three things before he can watch a movie: 1, 2, 3.” And second, Tom was sensitive enough to catch my sincerity when I said “I’m feeling overwhelmed;” and willing enough to respond- not only by caring for the boys for the rest of the afternoon, but also by taking care of of the pressing household tasks. I’ll say it again, I married a saint.

Two month hiatus

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.

Zion’s National Park

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!

Provo, UT- Devin and Jessica

The boys and I had such a good time visiting Devin and Jessica. We got to see their beautiful apartment and spend some time seeing historic Provo, the Bean Life Science Museum, and hiking up to Bridal Veil Falls. (In addition to visiting the Museum of Natural Curiosity and watching my eldest niece Brecklyn swim in the state competition.)

 

I always say this, but something about seeing my brothers play with my kids really touches me.

Provo City Temple under construction. (I want to see as many temples as I can while we’re here in such close proximity to so many. Unfortunately I’ve had terrible luck and the majority of them have been closed! Spring cleaning I guess.)

 

Both Devin and I had just gotten new camera so we had a lot of fun trying to figure them out.

I really appreciated having a bit more time to spend with Jess. (She and Dev got married last spring so I know her the least of my in-laws.) I just really like her. She’s kind, easy- going, positive, hard working, smart, great with kids, and perhaps this is not the right way to say it, peaceful. She just seems to bring a calm with her.

We met up with Sabina and Brigette and their kids at the Museum of Natural Curiosity in Lehi, Utah. It’s the most amazing children’s museum I’ve ever seen. Ever. The kids had SOOO much fun. I got few pictures, because the lighting was terrible, and the kiddos were moving to fast to catch. But much fun was had by all.

Tom drove up and joined us for the weekend. It was so fun to get to have family time with him, since so often I have to go solo due to his work schedule.

 

This water table for infants is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I mean, really, does it get any cuter?

This is perhaps the first time I’ve experienced a family get together like this. A few days before I sent out a text, hey want to get together Saturday morning. . .  and then Boom four of us sibs and our kiddos gather and have a blast together. Our children moved fluidly under changing supervision, cousins swapped out playmates by the minute. It was a beautiful thing. It’s outings like that that make me think… it would be so fun to live near family.

That and the outing we had between Bear River City and Provo when we stopped in Bountiful for an hour to hanging out with Getti’s kids at the McDonald- just because we could!

My boys- forever not looking at the camera.

Impromptu pinic: Scotland, Brigette, Coleman, Brielle, Anders, Rhyse, and Capriel

After our fun packed morning at the museum we headed back to Provo to watch Breck swim at state. Here’s some of her biggest fans: Jess, Devin, Anders, Landen and Sabina. Not picture- Brigette, Joette, and I.

Brecklyn is in lane one. Beautiful form!

Brecklyn is the oldest grandchild on my side. And as a result she’s always held a special place in my heart. She made me an aunt after all! Sabina and Craig lived in Washington for the first few years of her live, so I got to see Brecklyn as she grew up. When she was 11 she lived with Tom and I for a couple of weeks with her sister Talia. It was a time I’ll always cherish. So it shouldn’t have been surprised but watching her swim was really emotional for me. My eyes teared up and my heart swelled with pride. Breck set a goal to swim in the BYU pool a year ago, back when swimming was still quite new to her- and she did it! Impressive. I love you Breck!

After the competition we headed back to Bountiful, put the kids to bed and Brigette and Dave and Tom and I went on a double date for Valentines Day. We enjoyed a quite sabbath together before parting ways, Tom back to work in Pocatello and the boys and I to Arizona. . . to keep the family time coming!