Friday, July 28, 2017

Father's Day

Well, now that it's been over a month, I guess I'd better say something about Father's Day.

I like to think that I'm a pretty good dad: I change diapers, I help the kids in the night (when they let me haha; sometimes I don't make the cut and Jessie has to get up anyway), I do the dishes (sometimes as much as twice a week! lol), I play with the kids, I read to the kids, etc.

As hard as I try, though, I will never be as good at being a dad as Jessie is at being a mom and a wife. Evidence: the pictures below.

Jessie asked what I wanted for Father's Day meal, and I said Eggs Benedict Arnold, and she totally killed it. So delicious.
I also asked for a pumpkin chiffon pie. I ate the whole thing in 2 sittings. It was amazing.
Anyways, Jessie made these things for me while dealing with the kids all day! I couldn't have done it with an empty house and 4 hours of freedom.

But back to fatherhood. This is supposed to be a post about Father's Day, after all.

Current Favorite Things About Being a Dad:

1. Stockton falling asleep in his chair every night.  I wonder whether he ever wonders how he ended up in his bed?

2. Jack's swollen cheek from a mosquito bite haha. I feel bad, but it looks so cute!

3. Natalie's desire to have a cast on her arm or leg "so that everyone will ask me what happened."

4. Watching Stockton and Jack play together. Jack looks up to Stockton so much. I hope that doesn't change as Jack starts to realize that Stockton is developing at a different pace from most kids.

5. Watching Natalie be a little mom to Jack. I'm sure Natalie is exactly what Jessie was like when Jessie was that age.

6. 7 o'clock bedtime! I love being a dad, but at the end of the day, it's nice to put the kids down early and hang out with my wife.

Monday, July 24, 2017


It's been a tough month. I had a lot of things to manage and figure out but nothing was turning out easy or convenient - even signing up for Kindergarten has turned into a hassle involving an Appeal letter for Natalie to go to the school we want her to go to. We have had lots of random expenses that we don't have money to pay for, which is always stressful, including the car being hit while I was subbing for the paper route (it was a hit and run -_-) and a big speeding ticket in Utah. I've been stress-eating and not sleeping well and overall feeling very discouraged and anxious and not in control of anything in my life and it's just been rough.

I can write about it now because I feel like I'm finally on the up and up, which is a relief. Not everything is figured out (actually, I don't think we've figured any of it out), but my attitude is better and the gloom has lifted so I can press forward with a more determined heart.

Lots of people have helped us the past few weeks. Family and friends near and far have stepped in to offer moral support, dinner, advice, hugs, and even financial assistance, all of which has been greatly appreciated. It's hard to ask for help, and accept so much help. We need help with rides for Kindergarten and Austin's work/school and I've been putting off dealing with that because I feel like we've already burdened people so much and I don't want to have to ask for more help. But, when that's what you need, that's what you need, so I will suck it up and do what we need to do.

Life can be hard. I'm glad I have religious beliefs, because if I feel lost even when I know God lives and loves me, I don't know what I'd do or who I'd turn to without those beliefs.

 letter-writing and game-playing

The Denises and I went to the temple this week for our presidency meeting and it was just what we all needed. We felt grounded and re-centered and energized. And we went to Applebee's after and stayed til 11:30 in Omaha, so we didn't get back home til after midnight. I never thought I'd stay out that late with two ladies who are 60 and 80, but it was perfect. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture.

Sometimes, afternoon ice cream cones are just 100% necessary. I'm grateful for these sweet babes who make my days brighter when I'm feeling down. Here's to a better month!

Utah Part Three

We went to IHOP with Great-Grandma Poulsen but Stockton wasn't excited about sitting, so we roamed around and eventually took a break on this bench. I had a lot of opportunities on this trip to explain to strangers why Stockton was acting a certain way, but I was surprised that I never felt the need to tell anyone he had autism and use that as an important fact about him. I just let him do his thing and expected others to accept him that way. It was a nice parental feeling - I was proud of myself for not feeling pressured to have him perceived in a certain way, if that makes sense.

I thought Jack looked so cute brushing my hair. Side note: I left this dress in the hotel room : ( 

Monday night of the trip we spent at Grandpa's brother's house with all the Poulsen cousins. Sanford and Julie have a beautiful house and awesome backyard. The kids were in heaven, and it was a relief to be in a place where we could let them roam! Julie made Hawaiian Haystacks which were balm to my soul (until I ate too much and then it was a burden on my soul), and it was just really nice family hang out time. 

I couldn't get over the mountain view! You can't tell as much from the above photo but the mountains were RIGHT THERE and looked so imposing and awesome. The photo below is the view from the street in front of their house. Nebraska has its perks but could it please get some mountains!?

 Back to the hotel to relax before bed time. I think it's cute that wherever I go, they come find me and just want to be close.

The trip was fun. It was relaxed (as far as schedule) and filled with family time. There are other pictures from other phones that I need to add here but for now this will do. I'm grateful for Mom and Dad Poulsen who funded the trip, helped all of us in our individual needs, and sat back and just watched their family make memories. We had family home evening together at Kenzie and Kevin's and it always feels nice to feel the spirit together. Mike got us all a book to read and discuss ("In Tune" by Gerald Lund) so we'll be reporting back on that. Everyone enjoyed being around the kids, we enjoyed seeing the Utah/Nevada family that we don't always get to be around, and it is so fun for Austin and I to be Uncle and Aunt to Ashlee.

The trip was also stressful. Austin threw out his back on Sunday, had a seizure Monday, and of course that added some complications and anxiety to the arrangements. I'm grateful for priesthood blessings, family support, and answered prayers that helped us get through it and get home safely. We've since switched doctors, so hopefully we'll find some better solutions to deal with Austin's health and provide some answers that the other doctor didn't care about getting. (He was awful and I am SO relieved we found a new doctor.)

Til next time, Utah!

Utah Zoo Day

We went to Hogle Zoo on Saturday, and Austin's friend Ryan and his family planned to meet us there. I wanted Austin to be able to hang out with Ryan, and I knew that even though it would be fun to stay with the group, Stockton was going to want to do his own thing, so I decided to just make it a Stockton day and let him go wherever he wanted, do whatever he wanted, and just follow him and facilitate his journey. 

He loved it.

Here is what our day looked like:

playing with the gift shop
door for a good 25 minutes

briefly seeing Natalie for a picture at the giant spider

 Sharing a drink inside the restaurant because he spent over half an hour running in and out, testing the doors, looking out the windows, and doing it all over again so I felt like I had to buy something lol. He spilled on his pants, so off they came (he can't tolerate any wetness on his clothes).

pants-free down the hill

 a brief meeting with Daddy and Ryan's family at the carousel - he loved going up and down

 We found a play area, went to the bathroom, and took his shirt off to play in the splash zone. We spent at least half an hour here.

checking out the otters with only undies on (he'd rather have wet undies
than no undies, so at least he doesn't take those off!)

another exciting door to experiment with
(awkward for me, since it was the men's restroom)
we spent fifteen minutes here until finally I
couldn't deal with another weird stare haha

we meet again! snack break and forced Stockton rest - he was so sweaty! we coaxed him into his shirt again

this was half an hour after the snack break when we were ready to go -
we buckled an unhappy Stockty into the stroller so we didn't have to chase him
on the way out

 Austin took the boys to the car to wait and Natalie and I waited for the others (and got a secret ice cream cone muahahaha)

And then we went up the hill to Grammy Bee's and had sandwiches, MINT JULEP, and a lovely lounge on her back patio and in her 70s basement. I did our laundry (5 people go through a lot of clothes while traveling!) and the kids watched Up.

reading with Grammy Bee : ) 
After dinner at Rubio's, swimming with everyone, and getting the kids ready for bed, Stockton was still pretty rowdy so I sent out a group text seeing if anyone wanted to go to Target and Afton, Aaron, Makall, and Makae all wanted in. I was surprised it was so many but happy to have company on our outing, so we took out two carseats and loaded up in Mimi's van to head to Target. We needed bread and milk, and of course we left with six different treats to share, two carbonated beverages, and a failed attempt to find Aaron a new wallet.

We decided we shouldn't be done with our outing yet so we drove up the mountain to H Rock by Grammy Bee's house again to see the view of the city. We declared our group "Club Mimi" and listened to loud music with the windows open (including Shape of You, High School Musical, Shut Up and Dance, etc) and made up foundational principles for Club Mimi, including responsibility, Ed Sheeran, and Redvines. It was silly, fun, and totally what we all needed! I wish our whole family could have been there, but maybe next time : )

Utah Part Two

 Bringing our DVD player helped us waste time in the hotel room between activities and we will definitely remember that in the future. Anthony came to the rescue and let us use his HDMI cord - our TV is so old we don't need that cord at home! 

After we got to Salt Lake we were tired and lounge-y so a contingent went to pick up fast food and we all ate in our room, watching a movie and relaxing together as a family. 

 I think at one point there were 14 of us in here 

We didn't usually have early plans each day, so while everyone else slept/got ready my family (and sometimes others) explored the area, searching for parks and splash pads. The weather was hot but not humid, so it felt great outside compared to Nebraska!

Jack is in the blue shirt black shorts right of middle

Stockton is in the blue undies on the right
 We had to make the obligatory Hires trip (especially since I didn't get to go in March) and it was quite delicious. We explored City Creek Mall afterwards and decided that none of us are posh enough for that lifestyle (and that the "splash area" was lame, compared to what we were expecting.)

Natalie wearing Makall's glasses 
 One afternoon Grandma and Grandpa went to visit Great-Grandpa Winterton, so we all went our separate ways. Naturally, I called my awesome friend Jocelyn in Farmington to see what we could do together and she came up with a trampoline park and a taco lunch. It was as fun and fantastic as it always is when we're together and I was just as annoyed as usual that we don't live by each other.

 Ashlee and Jack trying to understand each other 
 We ordered pizza and ate it at Liberty Park one evening. It was a beautiful night, the pizza was delicious, but Natalie got a splinter and cried about it for half an hour haha, so that was a bit of a damper.

not pictured: Kevin, Kenzie, Austin, Stockton, and Aaron (and me)
jeez where was everyone?