Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Last Post of 2015

THIS IS MY TENTH POST TODAY.

I was so behind and now I will be caught up and I'm exhausted! I did some posts earlier during quiet time but most of them happened tonight. Jack is sleeping in Natalie's room for the first time (cross your fingers!) and Austin is at basketball, and I am finally tackling all the pictures I've been saving up for weeks. I sometimes think about just giving up and not worrying about posting everything, but that hurts my heart! I love these little memories in every picture and I never look back on old posts and think, "wow, I should really put less pictures up."

First, here are the leftover pictures from when Max came home that I want to keep but don't feel like adding into the original Max post:






And I guess this is an appropriate time to mention that Peanut, our wonderful little doggy of 15 years, went to doggy heaven earlier this month. He was the best dog our family could have imagined growing up with and it is weird to not have him bounding down the stairs whenever I go to my parents' house. We are grateful that he lasted at least until Max got home, so they could have snuggles and loves for one more month before he moved on.

Second, here are a bunch of pictures of Smalls:








Third, some random pictures of nothing critical:

fun fact: I LOVE making burned cds
for people and receiving them in return...
Blue Breakup from 2010 finally got retired
due to scratches, but it had a long run!

Scattergories before bed. We played
six rounds and I dominated. Austin tried
to get away with "moose hunting" as a hobby.

remnants of Stockton's lucky charms.
he is a master marshmallow picker-outer.

Austin gave me a break one afternoon but
there was a giant pile of laundry on the bed,
so I read amidst the clothes.
(Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo - SO GOOD, READ IT)

is this some sort of sick joke? my most favorite christmas candy,
befouled by DARK chocolate. i bought it anyway because
the milk chocolate variety was sold out.

another old friend, this time circa 2004!!

we got this hilarious set of books for Christmas with pictures of
 felted Star Wars characters and just one descriptive word per page 
And fourth, some recent spiritual thoughts:

-If we want our children to have testimonies, we must bear our own testimonies frequently and often so that they can feel the divine witness that comes when truths are spoken and revered. Austin and I have taken to adding a little testimony after we talk about Gospel things; for example, when Natalie asked where Daddy was I told her he was at the temple and I have a testimony that going to the temple blesses our lives, and then when he got home he told her that he has a testimony that we feel the spirit when we are in the temple and it is where we can become closer to God. It's strengthened our own testimonies as we testify to our children - it is AMAZING how quickly and powerfully the spirit enters the room when we bear testimony of a Gospel truth.

-Austin and I each answered the question "what do you have the strongest testimony of?" and it was a really great opportunity to review where we stand in the Gospel and evaluate what truths we hold dear. (There are so many that we could name, but the first thing that came to my mind was my testimony of the power of prayer, that God and Jesus are truly listening to us as we pour our hearts out to them, and the comfort of knowing that Jesus really knows EXACTLY how I am feeling as I pray. Austin said he felt strongest about Joseph Smith's First Vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, since he testified of that so many times on his mission and now it is embedded into spirit.) I challenge anyone reading this to ask yourself what you believe most fervently, whether you are religious or not.

-I used to bring my phone into the bathroom with me, but I found that I was sitting there wasting time on my phone far after I was actually done going to the bathroom (tmi?) and decided to put a Book of Mormon in the bathroom and read that instead of looking at my phone. I love it! I love that I look for excuses to go to the bathroom so I can get a little reading done, and I love that it is distancing me from the addiction of technology. I have a goal to finish the entire Book of Mormon in the bathroom this next year. (Ha, I just reread this paragraph and it sounds slightly ridiculous, but it's true!). I like that my children catch me reading the Book of Mormon instead of playing on my phone.

2015 was a grand year. Jack was born, Stockton started using words, Natalie tried swim lessons and everyone is growing and developing. Bring on 2016!

A Snowy Day


 Bundled up, going out
Watch us as we roll about!




 Snowman here, Jack inside
Using Legos for the eyes.



Snowy day, all is well
We love Daddy, he is swell.

On Being a Mom, today, at least

Whew, it was a morning. Long story short, I had to take all the kids to Stockton's speech appointment and it did not go well (Natalie threw the first legitimate unreasonable totally out of control screaming crying tantrum she's thrown in months...talk about bad timing) and by the time I got home and got the kids somewhat settled, I needed to go hide for a while, so I crouched in the stairwell with a bowl of froot loops and no one found me for at least a couple minutes. Even those few minutes were restorative though because it allowed me to read a conference talk and take a deep breath and listen to my children playing nicely and be able to muster up the courage and strength to dive back into my day.



I'M A MOM OF THREE.

Sometimes this simple fact is just so unbelievable to me. Three kids? All mine? All within three years? All beautiful and healthy and different and wonderful? I am SO blessed and I love them SO much but I still feel like I'm just playing house sometimes. Does that ever go away? I think it will once more of my good, long-term friends are married/have children, but right now, at least in my high school/college friend pool, I'm the lone wolf as far as having children goes. It is a bit isolating, to be honest. Sometimes I wonder what I would be doing if I didn't have kids, and as I compare my current life to what some of my other friends are doing (professional job, more school, travel, etc) I sometimes feel insecure or inadequate. But I just have to own it and be unapologetic and proudly defend (against my inner doubts or insecurities) my motherly calling, because there is absolutely nothing I would rather be doing than raising these three precious people.


 I mean, LOOK at these boys. My sons! So happy and buoyant and loving and beloved.


I can do this. We can do this, whatever we are doing at this point in our lives. It is worth it and important and challenging and rewarding. The grass is greenest RIGHT HERE, where we are.

Stockton and Speech

Stockton turned 2 in September and not only was he not using words, but he didn't seem to understand what we were saying to him. His pediatrician recommended that we start speech therapy with him while he is still so young and impressionable and not frustrated, so he's been going once a week for the past few months and it's going well. He likes playing with the SLP, Kara ("ka-RUH, ka-RUH" as Stockty says) and I'm grateful to have some professional help. Mostly they just play during the sessions and Kara tries to encourage speech that way, and some days go better than others but we're noticing solid improvement in his eye contact and joint attention/focus, so that's encouraging.

ha, he loves the exer
 confused that Natalie is asleep // reveling in the bubbles at Lost in Fun (he has the white stripe on his pants)

He's also made many improvements with his speech at home, which is so exciting. Seriously, not being able to really communicate for so long makes it SO WONDERFUL in the instances that we do communicate with each other. The first time I really felt like he was communicating, sharing info back and forth with me, was after the smoke detector beeped in the hallway. Stockton ran out into the living room, made sure I was looking at him, and said "beepbeep!" in a really excited, clear way. I couldn't believe it! We rejoice every time something like this happens, and will definitely not be taking it for granted any time soon. Other things he says regularly:

nana (banana)
appa (apple)
Daddy (when he comes home from work, especially)
hey
uh-oh
nigh-nigh (goodnight)
nee (bink)
bye-bye, or just bye
Da-wee (Natalie)
light
on/off (off sounds like just the "f" sound, ha)

and his new favorite, ALLIGATOR (which he says "aggagator" and it is so cute)

This list may seem paltry, but after over a year of waiting for him to speak (since he turned one) this is HUGE for us, HUGE HUGE HUGE. He tries new words pretty often, but sometimes they don't stick for a while. I'm so glad that he is starting to understand that words have meaning and that it is fun to share words together.

Yesterday Stockton grabbed my hand, took me to the door, and said "byebye." I told him we weren't going anywhere right then, but he brought me his coat and said "byebye" again and I was so thrilled that he was expressing an opinion, a desire, that I dropped everything and got the kids all bundled up to go play outside even though it was freezing. It is so exciting when he does stuff like this because it allows us to connect even more, and it is fun for me to be able to say, "okay, you're telling me you want us to go outside...yes, let's go!" I love this little boy to absolute pieces and it soothes my anxious heart that we are starting to communicate more.

Things I want to remember about our little buddy recently:

he loves throwing things into the sink or out of his crib and saying "uh oh!"
his favorite food is still easy mac, and he still loves milk
he loves running around like crazy with Natalie
the way he giggles/wiggles when he gets excited, dancing from one foot to the other
finding him in the corner reading his monsters book
watching him watch Natalie and laugh with her - having her as his older sister is so helpful to his development
he likes giving wide open mouth kisses haha

Shoutout to Susannah and Julie, two people who have been immensely helpful as we work to communicate better with Stockton. Sus is always a phone call away when I need to talk about something or have a question - she's a SLP herself and just totally understands everything, and I can really be open and honest with her because I know she gets it. Julie is my visiting teacher and she, without judging or being overbearing, offered to make Stockton some educational and fun activities/toys, and brings me new stuff all the time that she has spent hours working on. Her son had to see a speech therapist when he was young and she understood my need for someone to step in and help and just KNOW what I'm going through. She is an angel and I am so grateful for her support.

 a very small sampling of some of the stuff Julie has come up with, bless her

We love our little buddy. Austin and I are constantly looking over to each other and saying, "gosh, he's just so COOL." We love his personality, his quirks, his energy, and his joy. We wouldn't have him any other way!


Christmas with the Poulsens

We spent an awesome week with the Poulsens, basically seeing them every day for 8 days in a row. Makenzie and Kevin were in town from St. George, and Makae was back from BYU-Idaho. It was soooo good having them home. (Kevin is Kenzie's boyfriend.)


"light, light"

mandatory fun
We played games, laughed, ate, watched movies, stayed up late, got up early, played with the kids, and just enjoyed each others' company. Christmas Eve we had our traditional Chinese food lunch, but this year we had matching shirts, commissioned by Austin and made by Makenzie (she works at a graphic printing place, so she hooked us up.) I'll have to refer to Austin for a comment (they are his banana chair man drawings, after all), but here are the shirts. Each person's shirt has their nickname on the back too, which is fun.


these are ours - clockwise from bottom left: Natalie, Austin, Jessie, Jack, Stockton

We hosted dinner one night and then watched Father of the Bride: Part II. (I tell you, I LOVE those movies!) Austin and I secretly declared ourselves the "Magistrates of Merriment," and took it upon ourselves to make fun plans and get everyone together as much as possible. Our favorite game was this sketching game on the WiiU that was kind of like Pictionary but more fun. We also stayed up wayyy too late playing Phase 10 one night and eating poppyseed cake. We got to talk to Aaron in California on Christmas day (he'll have been out for a year in April, so crazy) and it was good to see that he is doing well. We made fun of Kenz/Kevin being all affectionate (I asked Austin if we were as touchy-feely when we were in that stage of our relationship and he gave a firm yes, yikes) and really just had a good time together. We tried a new burger place (to us) called HF Crave and it was DELICIOUS, holy cow - Lincolnites, check it out! - and then played basketball Knockout at the church. Magistrates of Merriment for the win!

phase ten malaise

Christmas colored Tiffanie Cake
Christmas morning was nice and relaxed - "Santa" set out a wrapped gift for Natalie and Stockton, they each got a book on Christmas Eve, and they had one or two more presents under the tree total. We didn't get Jack anything, oops. The others got matching Darth Vader jammies, which they love.


 "can I really open them!?"




Jack was entranced by this robot toy
from my Grandma
We shimmied over to the Poulsens and everyone gathered in the living room while Gpa passed out the presents.


K/K in matching Chewbacca jammies, and Natalie and Stockton in their Vader ones // Stockton LOVED having his picture taken with the fancy camera! He grinned and everything. (I need to get a hold of those pictures!)


 Jack's first Christmas!


 Typical Stockty: being momentarily interested in the goings-on and then reverting back to old toys haha.

It was a nice, relaxed day. We got so many fun gifts and enjoyed seeing what everyone else got, too. The kids loved playing with their new things (we took most of it out to the car immediately so it wouldn't get lost in all the other debris, but we did keep the Lego Movie Lego set out so we could build it and the kids loved playing with it. Natalie liked switching the people's body parts/heads/accessories around, and Stockton liked putting the people on the double decker couch and into the police car. It was a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon!)

see my new paper towel holder from Makae?!

 This is from a different day^ but I wanted to remember it because it was so cute - Stockton was playing the piano and singing along to his own tune. He loves music and often sings songs (Jingle Bells, ABCs, Wheels on the Bus, Sunbeam) but it was really cute to hear him try to play/sing at the same time. Maybe he'll be the musician of the family!

another night of Christmas lights
Merry Christmas to all! Thanks Poulsens for a great week. (Oh, ha, one thing I wanted to remember was how all week we would each randomly yell "...KEVIN!" like from Home Alone, and it never got old. Natalie LOVES Home Alone, 100% obsessed with it. She got the illustrated book for Christmas and basically has it memorized, and embellishes it with details from the movies that got left out.)