Friday, November 27, 2015

To My Favorite Three Year Old

Luke, you are THREE!  Oh, what a year it has been.  You have become smarter, sassier and more of a rascal.  We just love it.  In fact, 'rascal' kind of sums you up perfectly.  Whether you're hiding in the pantry, sneaking up on Noah to tackle him, or yelling at one of your uncooperative toys ("Stop that you naughty Lego piece!"), there seems to always be a level of rascality involved.

You are fiercely independent.  I hear, "I'll do it MYself!" quite a lot, especially when it comes to things like brushing teeth, taking off clothes and art work.  But there's also a side of you that recognizes as a three year old you still need your mom every so often.  I love hearing you say, "Hey Mom, let's do teamwork on this."  Buddy, I will always be on your team.

You especially love to do teamwork in the kitchen.  Whether it's cracking eggs together, stirring pancake batter or sampling cookie dough, the kitchen is your happy place.  Just a few days ago when you were 'helping' me make dinner you said, "Mom, I'm the Swedish Chef!" Sometimes it does feel that chaotic, but mostly I'm so grateful that you want to be around, and I promise to teach you how to make some great meals in a few years.

Your creative play is hilarious to listen to.  You make sure your Lego guys have good manners.  I hear you teaching your stuffed animals Primary songs.  I just love to sneak up on you and listen.

Our family's vocabulary has broadened because of your invented words.  None of us really know who the "mompa drompas" and the "fa fa no nos" are, but they get used in our family like imaginary friends.

You are confident.  That gets shown through your boldness and lack of fear for jumping off of things, climbing objects that are seemingly too difficult for a kid your size and by just trying new things without hesitation.  The way you walk is kind of an athletic, spring in your step, "I got this" kind of thing.  Lots of people notice how confident and sure your little walk is.

We are still trying to figure out if you're the fourth lefty in this family or not.  You switch back and forth and use both hands almost equally well, but seem to favor your left a little more.  Your language has developed at lightning speed.  You use all kinds of words that seem far beyond your age.  You remind our family that "Whatever is not respectful," and start sentences with words like fortunately, otherwise and perhaps.  But we just love that a few of your words aren't quite perfect, like 'blanklet,' 'yogret,' "flaucet' (faucet), 'manager' (manger) and 'necoration' (instead of decoration).  Some time during the summer you started telling me, "You're the best mom in the whole U.S." You especially like to pull my hair back and whisper it in my ear saying first, "Mom, can I tell you something in your ear?" I love it when that sweet, silly phrase is follows up by one of your strong monster hugs.

You are so excited to be a big brother.  You can be rough and bold and a bit reckless at times, but I have a feeling that when it comes to your baby sister she'll melt your little three year old heart a bit.  At your core you are love and full of goodness.  I could not ask for more when it comes to what I would wish for in a three year old boy.  I am so lucky.

Happy birthday!  I love you!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Luke is Three!

Once it looked like our baby sister wasn't coming a week early like I thought she should, I hoped that she'd hold off long enough for us to celebrate her big brother Luke turning three.  She cooperated just perfectly.

The morning started off with Luke coming out of his room while I was making pancakes.  He ever so sweetly said, "Hey Mom, I got out of my bed quietly and didn't even wake up Noah."  That brief moment where he didn't remember it was his birthday, but was so proud of himself for doing the right thing reminded me that he really is growing up.

Not long after that breakfast began.  We sang, we ate and we opened presents.  Luke was all smiles.  Birthday pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles sure made this boy feel special.

Noah chose a great gift for Luke.  City Legos were a big hit, and the biggest brother in the family did a great job keeping it a surprise.
 I decided that celebrating THREE was the perfect occasion to take Luke to his first movie.  Don't mind those somber faces.  They were actually beyond excited to be at the movies AND to be seeing the Peanuts Movie.
 The afternoon brought on a nap for Luke and an arrival home from Nate that was just a little earlier than usual.  Luke loves his dad time.  Weeks ago he requested In N Out for his birthday dinner.  That caught me by surprise a little because we don't go there much (like maybe one other time this year) and he's not really a hamburger guy.  But, when the birthday boy makes a request, you go with it.
He was all smiles the whole time, and I could tell he just loved that this day was all about him.

Not long after dinner all of the family showed up to help us continue the celebration. 

 And, of course, we had to keep with tradition and get this guy with our birthday kiss sandwich. 
 He didn't mind.

Oh, did Luke get spoiled!

Star Wars and Ninja Turtles have now invaded our home almost entirely. 
This silly boy loves to run around the house now and say, "I'm 'Liamnardo!" 
 He's got some pretty sweet Ninja moves too.

The birthday boy had requested 'sprinkle' cake with chocolate frosting, that's what the birthday boy and all of us got.  I LOVED hearing him sing the birthday song to himself right along with the rest of us. 
Once everyone was gone and we started to begin the bedtime routine, my sweet Luke burst into tears.  As I hugged him and inquired what was wrong he answered with, "Well, I just don't want my birthday to leave!"  I completely agreed.  It had been such a fun day celebrating him.  And maybe even more so because I knew that so very soon he wouldn't be the littlest any more. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On being thankful

We started off the first family home evening of November with a lesson about thanks.  Each of us shared the big and little things that we're thankful for.  Since then we've tried at just about every dinner together to come up with something from the day that we're thankful for.  Luke, especially, has been our thankful thinker and come up with all kinds of ideas during the day.  It's a work in progress, but so far this is the result.

Some ideas were predictable: family, friends, scriptures, even rain.  But I love what the boys have come up with during the past few weeks.  Things like cheetahs (Noah's favorite fast animal), magnets and legos (toys that keep us very busy for long periods), new countertops (I totally agree with that one Luke!), broccoli (one of their favorite vegetables?!) and peacocks (because they were so fun to chase at the zoo).

One notably missing item, to me at least, was this baby sister we've been talking SO much about.  But I didn't want to push it.  Maybe they hadn't thought of it, or maybe they just didn't feel so grateful for her -- yet.  But when I picked up Noah from Joy School on Thursday he proudly presented me with his art for the day.
It melted my heart a little.  Oh, I know there's going to be times, some that are right around the corner and others that are years away, where situations may cause him to feel otherwise, but at the core of who this little boy is, I know he's thankful.   

So am I.  

It's been no secret that this pregnancy has not been my most favorite thing.  In the beginning it left me unable to do much except survive.  But I gained a little insight into what it must be like to have a chronic, debilitating illness and my empathy for others I know who are suffering grew.   It's been frustrating, embarrassing and just outright maddening to deal with the worst acne I've EVER had for the past six weeks.  Some days I haven't wanted to leave the house (so I didn't) because it's just so bad.  I've avoided a few social situations and been a little more removed from life than I otherwise would have been.  But I've tried to find some silver lining and realize that even this experience has enlarged my heart and given me an understanding for how others think and feel and act when going through a similar situation.  I'd give just about anything for a magic wand to make it all disappear.  

I'm grateful to be nearly finished with the seemingly forever process of growing this baby, and also thankful that this pregnancy didn't result in a miscarriage, like a few others have.  

I'm thankful for friends who have been beyond excited about our little girl.  Throughout my pregnancy little girl things have been dropped off on my porch by friends who just couldn't pass up the cuteness.  At times when I still felt cautious, when I wasn't quite ready to believe completely that this would all work out, I hung onto the optimism of friends who just wanted to celebrate that things were good right now.  It made such a huge difference.  They will never know how much I appreciated such thoughtful acts. 

I'm thankful that Nate and I celebrated our 9th anniversary last week.  I think back to eight and nine years ago when we definitely did love each other, but comparing it to now, I feel like that love has grown exponentially.  We truly are each others greatest support and confidants.  Nothing makes me happier than to help him and our boys succeed, in whatever capacity I can.  And I know that in parenting, relationships, and reaching personal goals, he's my partner and supporter in all of it. 

Our anniversary gifts to each other showed that over these nine years we've learned a bit about what's truly meaningful to each other.  Nate came home from work with the most beautiful bouquet of fall flowers: roses and sunflowers and all kinds of other beauty in oranges and yellows.  He found a card with the most perfect message for me and us.  I, on the other hand, spent a good portion of the day cleaning out the garage so that after a couple of months of house construction our cars could both finally fit.  Both of us were so grateful. 

The bottom line:  we are blessed.  Being the mom of this little family is literally my dream come true. Spending the day with my kids is the best kind of work I could ever do.  I'm grateful every day for the many opportunities we have to love each other, snuggle and learn together.  Life certainly has its disappointments and heartaches, but I'm thankful that these are the people who will help me get through those moments and celebrate the goodness that also comes to us in abundance.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Apple Hill

After realizing that our life and schedule might not allow for the annual Saturday family trip up to Apple Hill, I decided, at the very least, the boys and I could go up for a couple of hours.  They were antsy for some apple cider donuts, and I was really aching for a slice of apple crumb pie.

We made sure to eat plenty of both.  

 There was frost on the ground when we arrived, and it was the chilliest morning we've had this season, but none of us seemed to mind.  One thing this family doesn't like is a hot day at Apple Hill.
We only made three stops: Rainbow Orchards, Larsen's and Able Apple Acres, but that was plenty for all of us.

Look at this boy.  Pure sunshine that kid.  I just love him and love that he is the biggest brother of this family.
 I said yes to horse riding, which made the boys incredibly happy.  Noah couldn't keep those excited arms from flapping just a little bit as he waited patiently for his turn.

Noah chose the big horse
 and Luke went with the pony. 
After a stop at the 'How tall this fall?' tree, we packed up ourselves and our sweet apple treats and headed for home. 
It was another simple day and simple outing, but fulfilled our tradition of going and also was one more great memory to be made before baby sister arrives. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ordinary Days

I've been thankful for a lot of normal, ordinary days lately.  Things got pretty crazy in September and October with our house under construction, and those days felt exceptionally UNordinary  (and stressful) sometimes.  Knowing that our family is on the cusp of changing forever and that we'll be turned upside down for a little while in the land of newborn neediness I've tried to take advantage of these wonderful ordinary days and squeeze in some simple, memorable fun with my boys.

We've been visiting our favorite parks,

riding bikes a LOT,

and taken a ride on light rail.

That train ride was, of course, followed by a visit to Snook's Candy store right up the hill.  How could we pass that up?
 We also made sure not to pass up the carousel while returning a few things to stores in the mall.
 Noah was especially excited that he secured himself a seat on dragon, instead of "just an ordinary horse."
We used some free passes to the zoo to go check on the bears, peacocks and Noah's favorite deer there named Abby.

Which, of course, was  followed by a different, much shorter, yet equally exciting train ride.

The train and zoo are a packaged deal with these boys.  You can't do one without the other.
 (I don't know what inspired the need for sunglasses that day, but both of them considered having shades a MUST everywhere we went.)

When I've had Luke to myself, I've tried to carve out some time for things besides errands.  This little boy was over the moon when I asked if we could go on a lunch date to Taco Bell.
He may be two, but the kid can carry a conversation that keeps me smiling and laughing the whole time.

And, if we are running errands, we've found ways to make it a little fun too.  A while back the boys saw this zombie shooter in a catalog, and Luke just about jumped out of the cart when he actually saw the "bazombie" shooter in a store.

After a thorough inspection, we left him at the store, but that "bazombie" was the talk of the day, especially when Luke reported to Noah what we'd found.

Daily I think about how grateful I am that these two have each other.
 I hope it's going to make the transition of going from two to three a little easier for them and for me.

Their play and interaction isn't perfect, but it's usually pretty sweet and definitely entertaining. 
 I'm not the type to stay home bound for too long after having a baby, but I do know for sure that even when we are off on an adventure my attention will often be with that tiny, sweet girl and not quite as much with these two boys who have a huge piece of my heart.

I am so grateful that I'm feeling good to be able to squeeze in some simple, fun moments while it's just the boys and mom...for a few more days.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ending the Season

Yesterday was Noah's last game of the season.

 I'm so happy he played and so happy to be done with it (for now) at the same time.  Noah gave a great effort this season and improved each game.  You can't ask for more than that, right?
  Immediately after the game we headed over to the pizza place to celebrate with his Viking teammates.  Coach Corey was always incredibly positive with the kids and also focused on having fun.  And that was a pretty good combination for these little guys and their first season of soccer.
 They made lots of friends on the team, but I'm really glad Noah and Liam got to play together.  It was also a big treat for their moms to have a little time every week to catch up and chat at practices.

This happy kid has prominently placed his trophy 'on display' for everyone to see.  He's pretty pleased with himself.  
It warmed my heart after yesterday's game to hear him say, "Hey, Mom, look.  I got Star Wars fruit snacks in my treat bag.  Can I give them to Luke?  He was my biggest fan this season, and I want to give him something for cheering for me."  It's not always that perfect, but Noah, he really is thoughtful beyond his years sometimes.  It amazes me.  And it was only made better when that little brother took out a green, gummy Yoda and said, "Hey Noah, I want to share 'dis wif you!"

Monday, November 2, 2015


One day these boys won't let me gently persuade them towards a costume choice, but for now I'm going to keep it up for as many years as I can.  After hearing Noah and Luke name every idea for weeks from being Darth Vader to a squirrel, I won them over when a big box arrived at our front door with Peter Pan and Captain Hook costumes inside.

Oh boy, did these guys rock their costumes. 

 Luke's whole personality changed.  He wanted to only be called Peter and would 'fly' around the house saying, "I'm off to Neverland!"  After our ward trunk or treat we found him leading a group of kids through the parking lot ("Follow me guys!"), just like the Lost Boys.  And I think every one of those kids was at least a year or two older than him.  It was just hilarious.

Noah and his Joy School buddies dressed up and sang some songs for their moms.  I sure love these sweet kids.
 We kept with tradition and invited family and friends over for dinner on Halloween night.  The weather was perfect and these kiddos were so antsy to get the trick or treating started.  Nate did a great job hanging out with the oldest four (Landon, Liam, Noah and Luke) as they ran ahead from house to house, while Kate and Camille took their time.  It was perfect.
 Let's get a solo shot of that little Madeline, I mean Kate, in her costume.  She was just darling!
 These two candy monsters had such a fun night.  We all did.  I loved being surrounded by some of our favorite people and watching the magic and happiness that kids bring to just about everything, including Halloween.