Full term- full of joy

My due date was four days ago. I was two days late with Scotland and nine days late with Anders, so I expected it this time around. Especially since I’ve been measuring small.  I can genuinely say I haven’t felt any frustration. I believe in letting babies come when they’re ready. So despite the many queries, I don’t plan on inducing. I’m grateful for midwives that feel similarly. I’m also grateful that I’m blessed with healthy and strong pregnancies that, while including their measure of pain and discomfort, are very manageable. In preparing for childbirth this week I’ve been reading “The Gift of Giving Life.” It’s a compilation of essays by LDS women about various aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. I’ve appreciated their sacred, optimistic approach and found great peace and comfort in their view points.

I was feeling rather grumpy a few weeks ago, I was experiencing a lot of pelvic pain, and was getting frustrated with how it was limiting my activity level. I allowed my own discomfort to seep into my interactions with the boys and I let things go sour for a little while, until I got tired of myself and decided it was time to take a different approach. No body likes a negative Nelly. I determined to spend more time in prayerful contemplation, and to find some literature to help me garner greater optimism in my situation. It’s worked marvels. Instead of grouching about my inability to do some things, I’ve savored the opportunity to do other things like reading and playing the piano. Instead of pushing the boys and trying to keep things uber productive, I’ve slowed down and done more with them. I’ve taken time to linger at the playground, or take a picnic. (The gorgeous weather has been a HUGE boon!)  Their behavior has improved significantly, there’s been more love in our home, and we’re all a LOT happier. I’ve gone from dreading and stressing about the delivery to looking forward to it. I’m not sure I look it, but I feel “the glow.”

This all goes to show the power of spirituality. I’m reading a book called “The Spiritual Child.” It’s a fascinating book! It discusses the scientific research behind spirituality and its merits. I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to those who aren’t religious, and who are unsure of how to approach spirituality in their children. I credit this book also for helping me flip my perspective- at least in my interactions with the boys. I can be a pretty high-strung, intense Mom. And my tendency is to run a tight ship- whether my boys like it or not! But this book really emphasizes the importance of focusing on more than academic and intellectual pursuits. It’s helped me re-analyze where I should be placing my emphasis as a mother and helped me decide that teaching collaboration, friendship, kindness, service, anger management, joyful living, and spirituality is more important than time management, reading, taekwondo, cleanliness, or organization. And interestingly as I’ve given greater emphasis to things like kindness and service some of the other things that I used to harp on have become less of an issue- like messy eating, or defiant behavior. I believe strongly that example is the greatest teacher. (Though I think about it more than I do it!) As I’ve tried to set an example of helping and service these past weeks, we’ve done chores together– instead of me doing one thing and they doing another. I’ve sought to be playful and collaborative about it, and then been surprised as they continued to help as we moved from one chore to the next to the next. (While normally I’d be happy if they completed one chore.) We’ve spent more time reading the Friend, singing primary songs, and memorizing scriptures. I’ve been more vigilant with FHE lessons. And, as promised, the spirit has increased in our home. The boys have been less contentious, and I haven’t been stressed out and annoyed by the time Tom gets home.

I’ve relied on the empowering nature of the Atonement. Each morning I’ve prayed for the power to use a soft answer, to feel greater love and understanding, to be more patient and creative, and each night I’ve marveled at how God blessed me with each of those things. God is real. He has such a desire to uplift us and bless us, to help us become our best selves, but we must ask!

I know that the next six months are going to seriously test my grit. For a while I feared it. I thought: If I’m struggling to be level headed and patience with my boys while sleeping eight hours a night, how on earth am I going to survive when I’m sleep deprived? And then I turned to my Savior, and the last few weeks have been, beautiful. I feel hope that with complete reliance on Him these next six months need not just be endured but enjoyed. Of course, I’ll have to do things His way. But having reaped the blessings of doing just that these past weeks, I’m looking forward to it!

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.

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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.

Keeping it real

In a world of photo editing, Pinterest, and selective sharing, I always appreciate a good “real life” share. I came across these photos from Christmas and they made me smile. This is what our nativity reenactment looked like:

Both boys were most excited about being angels. This is a carry over from last year when Scotland dressed up as an angel several times a day. The angel costume was the only one that Anders was willing to don. The sparkly gold-starred halo appealed to him.

Hallelujah jive?!

Two worshipping wisemen. Anders, that looks like total devotion to me.

It’s easy to feel that spiritual things like this aren’t worth doing with kids of this age- because they tend to be more chaotic and crazy then spiritual. But I’m beginning to learn that the spirit is much more nuanced and diverse than I usual think. He is quite capable of touching active little boys hearts.

 

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.

 

Sunday thoughts

Oh agency, how we all wished for you, how God planned for you, but how hard it is to give you, use you. I work with the girls 12-18 years old at our church. Focusing mostly on the girls aged 14 and 15. It’s a tricky age group. They’re suddenly experiencing life through more questioning eyes. The safe black and white of their youth is no longer acceptable, and they’re trying to find their way through the gray. I love working with this group. I’m negotiating my way through the gray too, while also feeling secure in more black and white understandings of some very vital things. It’s those vital things that I most want to help the girls grasp, accept, and find peace with. Funny, but I just realized that there is a lot of parallel with an experience I just shared with my son. I helped him put up his play tent. (I’ve been preparing a lesson on muscles, bones, blood- the body for preschool this week.) So, thinking of that, I said as I fed in the poles- these are like the “bones” of the tent. Life is a lot like a tent without poles when you don’t have any concrete understanding, or knowledge of spiritual things. Sleeping in, and most certainly living in a tent without poles would be frustrating, annoying, and uncomfortable. But add a few poles and suddenly it becomes a livable space. We could extend the metaphor by suggesting that while a tent is a suitable dwelling place for a few days, it would make for a difficult dwelling place year round, harsher weather and real life necessities- nutrition beyond granola bars, a way efficient way to clean one’s self, etc, would eventually lead us to seek a home with a foundation, insulation, walls and conveniences like a kitchen, bathroom, etc. Similarly a few poles of gospel truth might get us through a short while. But if we are to weather the storms and necessities of life we need to be continually adding to our “home” until eventually we have built our “mansion”- in heaven.

But I digress, so what do you do when your student, child, friend, continues to “choose” to live in a tent without poles? Any loving mother/father/friend would offer poles, would encourage movement into a more permanent home. A parent might even force it. Sticking their own poles into the sleeves, or pulling the child out of their sloppy tent and into their own comfortable house, but that’s where the metaphor falls short. With testimony this is impossible. You can’t offer poles. You can gush about how much more wonderful life is in a tent with structure or even in a home with heating and plumbing. But they have to build them themselves. They have to be willing to “try them on” and slip them into the sleeves. They have to be willing to maintain them. This is the law of agency. This was the great gift that Heavenly Father gave us, required on earth. Agency is the plan Christ supported, the lack of agency- the Devil’s. But where is the line? Where as a parent is it still your responsibility to require/force your child to live in accordance with what you believe is best? On one extreme some parents offer little advice, letting their children navigate the world entirely on their own. On the other, parents strictly enforce their set of rules/beliefs and children who deviate are punished or disowned. I believe, as with most things, the ideal falls in the middle. But I certainly haven’t figured out where that middle is. I would say in my brief experience, it’s easier and quicker to force- but much less desirable to all parties. I always feel a peace when together Scotland and I are able to work out an arrangement that is equally respectful, understanding, and fulfilling. Like this morning, after being asked five or six times, Scotland still hadn’t dressed for church, and we soon needed to leave. I knelt down and petitioned “Scotland, I don’t know what to do. You aren’t listening, and I’ve committed to not get mad at you today. But what am I supposed to do?” He responded curtly. I stopped, thought, considered the situation, and said “Perhaps we need to go back to what we did a few months ago: where all those that happily and readily prepare for church will get to have dessert with the family after dinner.” He loved the idea and quickly went up to dress. Contention had been avoided, we both left respected and a clear plan had been set. (Now I just need to make a checklist so he knows what all needs to be done to be “ready” for church.)

It’s easier when you can supply earthly rewards, but what about when the only real rewards are spiritual? Testimony can’t be attained through bribery, punishment, or any other means. We try as leaders and parents to provide as many opportunities as we can for our children/students to feel the spirit. But in the end it’s a personal, spiritual endeavor. It doesn’t relate well to our temporal physical realities. We had a lesson today about the sabbath day. The same topic had been taught by another teacher two weeks earlier while I was out of town. Which provide me with a perfect opportunity to say, “Great, so how have you changed since two weeks ago? What are you doing different now?” The response, absolutely nothing. Did the teacher a few weeks ago fail? No. She did her part, they didn’t do theirs. Joseph Smith said “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” How often do we receive great insight from the spirit, and then do nothing with it? It’s good to turn the attention to ourselves, because suddenly we sense how universal this issue of agency is. We suddenly see that the Father is working with this same law with each of us. I can’t imagine His frustration when time after time he sees me ignore/ not act on something He’s taught me, knowing full well that I am missing blessings, and perhaps facing undue stress, anxiety, and sadness- and still, He doesn’t force me. Next time, I go to Him and say “I’m struggling with this, what do I do?” He’ll lovingly tell me again “XYZ.” And more likely than not, he’s told me that “a hundred times!” 

Writing this all out, I realize I need to be more patient. My YW might not turn into spiritual giants before they graduate. They may not grasp the beautify of the personal progress program for decades. They may never realize the spiritual edification of various spiritual acts, I can’t force them. I can only love them, teach them, and continue to build and display my own beautiful “home” full of comfort, peace, and joy.

So I wish I could have worked through and organized, and edited this a bit. . . but I’m lucky I found the time to write what I did- so it is what it is! 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

The prayer system

I’m reading a book right now, and the author talks quite a bit about her habit of writing. I find myself feeling a bit jealous every time she speaks of it. Oh, how I’d love to have more time to write, I think. Then I realize, I have all the time I need to write, I just have to take it, to make it.

I had a real turning point sort of week. I hope it’s a permanent turn. I’ve been studying prayer and revelation in preparation for the class I teach on Sundays. As I studied this talk, I was really inspired to make my prayers more connected, to set a goal in the morning and report back in the evening. It fit perfectly with my recent realization that I am an obliger (again from Better Than Before). I’m quite reliable if others ask me to do something, but I tend to slack when it’s just me asking myself to do things. Accepting this was key. Then I knew I had to do something about it, I needed to find accountability for those things I want to change or do, that no one else was aware of. (Think virtues like charity, patience.) Prayer, I realized, was the ideal practice. I have covenanted with my Father in Heaven, and thereby obliged myself to Him. Through prayer I am able to work with Him to set the course of my day and then follow through with Him. I made a simple chart so that I could write down my goals and daily reports (writing is powerful for me.) And it worked wonders. I had a really transformative week. I curbed my angry outbreaks. My adoration of Scotland returned as I sought to understand and respect him more. As a result, his angelic behavior returned. The spirit was in our home, love abounded, and I LOVED motherhood. I felt supported. I was working with someone, I felt the aid of God. Each night as I reported back I repented for my short comings and sought suggestions and guidance on how to prevent them the following day. And together We rejoiced at my successes. The next morning, reflecting on the previous days struggles I set a clear goal, prayed for inspiration and help to carry it out. And got on my feet and went for it.

Tom recently posted this article on FB. It talks about how Residency programs’ emphasis on education has been radically reduced and as a result residents level of satisfaction has dropped. Where residents of the past were content to work long hard hours, empowered by their sense of purpose established by intimate mentorships and learning opportunities. Today, stripped of time to learn from mentors, and read and study, residents feel like slave laborers working alone to do more than seems possible. Education and learning is key. I’ve known that, but I wasn’t sure how to put it in practice in regards to motherhood. How could I create a system of assignments, projects, and evaluations so that, like those residents, I could continue to learn and be inspired to high levels of care. I don’t want to become a jaded mother, unable to see past the monotony of my career path.

Happiness comes from seeking a higher way of living, from personal progress. This new prayer system has given me new found purpose. In my ability to track small successes and figure out solutions to daily failures I feel renewed and rededicated to upward movement, to a higher path of mothering. Now, with assignments, projects, and evaluations, motherhood feels more like a career. My aspirations feel more legitimate, more possible.

Scripture stories and primary songs- fabulous way to bring the spirit

I notice a huge difference in our day when we start with scriptures. My boys love these scripture story videos put out by the church. I’m amazed how much Scotland picks up, and it provides great content for conversation. Ideally, I’ll pick scripture stories that go along with what they are studying in Primary.

I’ve also learned the power of playing primary songs in the car. For some reason the car is often a stressful place for us, transitions are hard.  Anders often throws royal tantrums when I put him in his car seat and Scotland can take FOREVER to get buckled up- which stresses me out. Sweet children’s voices singing uplifting messages always calms me and the boys right down and puts us in the better state of mind!

Cache Valley: Sabina and her family and two sets of Grandparents

After our visit with Getti, we returned “home” to see Tom for a few days before I got stir crazy and we headed back out to visit Sabina and my Grandparents in Cache valley.

They were sweet to treat Scotland to yet another birthday celebration. (I guess he got four ’cause he’s four!) Really, it was just all of my siblings being amazing aunts and uncles. Their love and attention to my little ones always warms my heart.

We got a big snow while we were there which was a literal answer to prayer- (The whole valley fasted the day before for snow.) We were thrilled to finally get some snow play in! Sabina suited us up and we headed to a great sledding hill.

Anders LOVED going down the hill, even when it got fast. He has NO inhibition. As always, I’m amazed at how individual children are.

It’s fun to be Seattleites who don’t get snow, because then it’s SO exciting. I guess it’s like Tom who still LOVES rain, because he grew up in Arizona.

We also took the kids to a big bounce house one afternoon. Rhyse and Scotland were in heaven. And Anders, with his newly acquired walking skills, was happy to follow his brother about, walking between the huge inflated structures. Rhyse and Scotland played so happily this trip. Its the first time its been just the two of them, as we’ve always come up with Brigette’s family, and I appreciated the chance for Scotland to get to know Rhyse a little better. She’s a darling girl.

Rhyse struggles with what some call “intense emotion.” It has really crippled her in the past, but with some research and LOTS of practice Sabina has helped her work through a lot of it. I was really amazed at the transformation within her. She knew when she needed to take “downtime” and has learned to verbalize her needs. Sabina’s patience and creativity with her was truly inspiring, especially because I know what a challenge this has been for her. Rhyse has been a graduate level course in parenting, and Sabina is passing with flying colors!

Sabina treated me to a morning walk to myself. The crisp air and exercise felt wonderful, and the scenery wasn’t so shabby either!

It was their ward’s ski night at Beaver Mountain ski resort while we were there. With cheap rates, and a willing babysitter in my injured nephew, I took advantage of the opportunity to take Scotland skiing for the first time. He was such a champ. Sabina was sweet enough to take him the first several rounds as I got used to being on skis myself (I’d only been once before.) She was so patient and encouraging with him. (He said at the end of the night when he was starting to get tired. “I want to ski with you three more times and then I want to ski with Sabina one more time!”)

He was determined, and quickly picked up the skills to ski on his own, he learned to snow plow enough to slow himself but not enough to stop, so after a few crashes he decided he’d rather hold my hand the rest of the time. Which I didn’t mind at all. Hearing his endless chatter as we moved up the bunny lift. Holding his hand as we moved down the hill. Working together to do something both of us were beginners at. Seeing his smiling goggled and helmeted face. It was a memory I’ll always cherish.

In addition to getting to spend a lot of quality time with Sabina and her family we got to spend a day with my maternal grandparents. It was a lovely day. Grandma read and played with the boys, Grandpa took them out to feed the horses. And I was able to help them a bit with Grandpa’s life history.

Grandma pulling out puzzles and games for Scotland.

Grandma was doing really well on this visit. She read Scotland several books, narrating expressively and pointing out all the interesting parts of the pictures. She helped entertain Anders while I helped Grandpa write his history, and asked Scotland dozens of questiosn. She was high spirited and jovial, it was wonderful to see her and feel of her loving spirit.

Keeping a fire going downstairs.

Teaching Scotland how to feed the horses.

My grandfather has Parkinson’s disease. His whole body was covered in an itchy rash when we were there, but you wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t told us. His determination to still be a grandpa- taking the boys outside, giving them treats, and taking them up on his lap to talk to them always touches my heart. He spoke deeply and sadly of friends and family members of his who have recently left the church. He bore his testimony of the priesthood, of the truthfulness of the church, of the joy it brought to his life. I love this man!

Showing him how to ride the tractor.

One of the things I love about Anders is how free he is with affection. When Grandpa leaned in to give him a kiss he nuzzled his head into his shoulder.

I’m not sure why but this picture really means a lot to me. I spent two summers with my grandparents, and we ate nearly every meal at this table, with these plates and these placemats. The seating arrangement was the same, except this time I had my two boys with me. The prayers and conversation were similar. I’m just so grateful that my two boys will get to experience a bit of the peace and stability that resides in this home, around this table.

We also got to have lunch with Grandma Petersen. It was a shorter visit than I would have liked- her houses is NOT baby proof, and the boys were high energy and rambunctious. But she smiled and laughed at their sweet displays- Scotland’s acrobatics and Anders abundant blown kisses. She encouraged Scotland as he colored in his coloring book and made sure the boys had plenty to eat during lunch. Her eyes sparkled as she watched Anders tottering about, and enjoyed Scotland’s lively conversation. As he sat next to her at the bar stools, waiting for lunch he asked her. “So, what games did you play when you were a kid?” (A question I had suggested he could ask Grandma and Grandpa Harrison a few days earlier.)  It was great to see her and get to express our love, if only briefly. It felt good to be in her home, so full of memories for me.