Monday, November 25, 2013

thankful November.

I must admit, all too often November is a blip on my radar, a passing of time from Halloween to Christmas. It is nice to remember to be thankful, but aren't we to be thankful all the time? I have found just how easy it is to be cynical of November expressions of gratitude, and just how easy it is to have Thanksgiving sail by without too much thought.

This year November arrived gray and cold. But for unexplained reasons, my heart was bursting. I looked out the window at the gray sky and it felt cozy and warm. A few days into November I turned to Chris and said, "I just love November. I don't know why, but I'm just so happy about it." He wasn't sure what to make of me. That is not to say all is perfect. No, the days are still hard, my patience is too thin, and frustration and exhaustion persist. But happiness in the midst of the hard was more apparent. I still don't know why this year my heart has been so full. But while we should be grateful all the time, I think Thanksgiving exists so we remember to be a little bit extra grateful. And what I have discovered these few weeks, is that the more I express my gratitude, the more grateful I feel.

We hung a "thankful tree" on our living room wall. It is far from Pinterest-perfect, but it has been a blessing in our home. Carly loves doing the leaves every night before bedtime. She would come up with such great things to be grateful for, everything from planets to bugs to her grandparents to Jesus. On good days, I would have a hard time choosing what single blessing I wanted on my leaf, and on hard days, I was reminded to look for the good. Carly asked if we had to take it down. Maybe we won't for a while.

I tried to be mindful of my blessings every day. Often those thoughts were shared on Instagram, and often they were not. Whether shared with the world or kept in my heart, being more aware of my blessings has been a blessing in and of itself.

This November we've been grateful for

-the end of Halloween; what a relief
-sweet loving big sisters
-starting gymnastics class
-relaxing evenings
-a warm, wonderful (albeit small and messy) home
-the never-ending adventure of having twins
-a healthy body, and running scenic miles
-good books all around
-big daddy hugs

-cozy blankets as the days grew colder
-being a stay-at-home mom, spending my days in blanket forts
-and more books
-the House of the Lord, and the clarity and peace that exists within
-a fridge full of food
-cake (of course!)
-catching snowflakes during first snowfalls

Its no secret that one of the greatest blessings in my life is the people I share it with. Chris, Carly, Quinn, and John make my life rich. Carly participated in her first Primary Program in our church a few weeks ago. She was prompted to come up with her own part. She did, and she memorized it and delivered it flawlessly: "My family is special because we love each other and Jesus loves us. I can be a good future mother by helping with my brother and sister and learning to feel the Spirit." It doesn't get truer than that. I'm so happy she feels the love in our family and knows the Savior loves us, too.

And above all, I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for the knowledge I have about this life, and the life to come. I'm grateful I can be with these people I love so much forever. I'm grateful that the gospel provides me with happiness, comfort, and peace in my everyday life.

Our tree is full.
And so is my heart.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

that thing you do.

Oh, Quinny. You crack me up. Your two favorite words are "mama" (while following me around with your arms reaching for me, you little mama's girl) and "mine", which you say about anything you want and which often has you sounding just like one of those seagulls from Finding Nemo. You love Curious George and when we are going to watch a show you run to the tv and point and say "oo oo ah ah" like a monkey. You love Itsy Bitsy Spider, and when you want me to sing it, you make a spider out of your little fingers and say "dibby dibby". Your favorite part is "wash the spider out", which you do quite vigorously. You like to hop. Like, you just hop around. I'm not sure there is anything cuter, because of course you'd be a hopper. It fits you. Today we were playing in the rain and suddenly it turned into an intense windy monsoon. We tried to get everyone inside and you went running into the storm, squealing and laughing. That fits you too, flower child. You got your mothers sweet tooth, and you know when we are eating something sweet and trying to hide it from you. Daddy brought me a milkshake the other day and you completely commandeered it. You love that big sister of yours and you want to do what she does, which is creating your independent streak. You get mad when you can't get your shoes or pants on by yourself, and it takes a while of frustrated failures before you'll begrudgingly let me help. You figured out how to climb out of your crib. You were pretty happy with yourself, but you also wouldn't go to bed and eventually passed out on the living room floor at 10:00. We took the bottom out of your crib so you are stuck again and you were SO mad about it. But you're doing ok now. You're not ready for a big girl bed yet, sister, so just slow down. You look insanely adorable in big girl pigtails. You like to wear sunglasses. You still love your blankie and you developed a new affection for the seal, or "see see" as you would say. You have a big sweet unique personality.

But Quinny, my very favorite thing you do, is when you grab your big blanket in your arms and run to me. I scoop you up and kiss your neck and you lay your head on my shoulder and just stay still. You do it several times a day. I want you to be a little sweet snuzzly quirky mama's girl forever.

John Boy, you cray. You have an obsession with vehicles, which I've mentioned before but deserves another one. You love to push your little trucks around and our book about 100 Trucks is your favorite. You follow me around with it and hold it up to me. I think you'd sit on my lap and look at it all day. And its so funny because we just turn each page and you point and say "Vooom!" You love Thomas the Train, and on the rare occasion you get to watch it (your sisters usually override you on the vote, but I make sure you get your turn), you pace around excitedly and point and say "choo choo!". You have been SUCH a good boy lately. We are not sure what flip was switched. You have been very pleasant during the day and sweet. The thing is, when you were whiny and screaming all the time you were still so dang cute, I wanted to eat you. Well, now you are sweet and so dang cute . . . I can't take your deliciousness. Well, almost. All the sudden you won't go to bed. Really, you are going to stay up for an hour and a half yelling? Your sisters need some sleep man, and you are killing our sanity. We had it good there for like 5 minutes. Just go to sleep. You hate getting put in the car, and scream and fight against me most of the time I do. You are rough and tumble. You like to climb things and jump off things, which bodes well for your bones in the future. You just started climbing up on the backs of the couches and taking things off the wall. Driving me nuts. You also like to play with the thermostat, so the house will be freezing or sweltering and I won't know why until I notice it is set a 30 or 90 degrees. You have a vendetta against or floor lamp. It is now nicely curved. You are a wild one.

But John Boy, my favorite thing you do is when you wrap your arms around my head and make a big kissing sound. Then you lay a big wet one right on my lips. Over and over. You love mama kisses. And I love John kisses. I want you so be a noisy, choo-chooing, mama-kissing, wild child forever.

Carly Carly. You are so good. You are so full of life. You love nap time. We recently made a cup with slips of paper in it, and on each paper is something fun to do during nap time. You are always excited to pick out of it. Everything from folding laundry to math games to coloring to Candyland is in that cup. I love spending that time with you. You are getting so big. When I carry you upstairs to bed I can hardly make it up! You are so smart. You continue to love books. In fact, we recently started our first chapter book together. It is an American Girl book about a Native American girl named Kaya. You do pretty good to listen and follow along with the continuing story, even with the lack of pictures. I hope we have a long journey of reading books together in the future. But you are growing up too fast, because recently you have been very interested in what stories really happened, and what stories are fairy tales. You are so fun with the babies. I love hearing you all giggling together. They think you are pretty great. But sometimes you struggle. Sometimes you beg me not to get them up from their naps. Sometimes you say you wish you didn't have the babies. And I understand that, because they are hard. But I'm so grateful you are so good to them. You just started gymnastics and seem to have fun with it. You just love your daddy. All day you talk about him, color pictures for him, and say you can't wait to tell daddy this or show daddy that. You've got good taste because you have one fabulous daddy. You have such an impressive knowledge of the gospel. After church you like to pretend you are the church teacher, and last week you taught me a lesson about the Golden Plates, and it was all correct. Another time we were playing and you were the ice queen. You told me you made your whole ice palace out of magic from you hands. "But not all the things outside my ice palace," you said. "Jesus made all of that." You are so good. I know I already said that, but you are so good, I'll say it twice.

But Carly, my favorite thing you do is pray. You pray for us to sleep good. You pray for your mom and daddy, and your baby brother and baby sister. You pray for "our lives to go well and our hearts to go well". And what do we need more than that? My Carly, I want you to be a story-loving, spirited, praying, little big girl forever.

Friday, November 1, 2013

a world where there are Octobers.

October has long been my favorite month.
This year was no exception.

We kicked the month off with my aforementioned half-marathon, my birthday, and General Conference, all packed into one super-fab weekend. My birthday was spent sleeping in, reading in bed until 10 with breakfast being brought to me, being carried down the stairs on several occasion (it was the day after my half, after all), eating Phish Food and pumpkin chocolate chip cake, and listening to the prophets of God. We also went out to play in the rain, and I couldn't help but marvel at my three crazies, the very best things I've done in my 27 years.

We also enjoyed the final games of Carly's soccer season. Carly spent most of the games running around cheerfully, looking pretty clueless. On one occasion she was the goalie, and she watched calmly as the other team scored on her and yelled, "Thanks for the goal!" Granted, she is only 4, but it will be interesting to see if competitive sports are really her thing. She loved being around the other kids, and really liked her coach, so it was a fun experience. It was incredibly cute to watch her out there. Whatever her niche is, we are so proud of her.

On weekend #2, Chris's parents came to town. Chris adviser and his wife (I've mentioned them several times on our blog . . . I'm calling them Jim and Linda from now on!) offer us football tickets every year, and Chris's parents come up to hold down the fort. We spent Friday evening at our favorite pumpkin patch, and the kids got lots of grandma and papa time while Chris and I enjoyed the game with Jim and Linda the following day. (I'm not going to mention how it is our last Spartan game . . . I'm sure you're all sick of my extreme sentimentality.)

We spent a lot of time enjoying the beauty autumn has to offer. The leaves were actually a bit slow this year since we got a warm spell, but it has made fall a little longer, which is nice. One Sunday evening drive led us to a beautiful dirt road that was perfect for a stroll. We also have our beloved "forest" right in our complex. It is a little wooded loop that we have walked hundreds of times, and there is a big tree that drops seemingly endless orange leaves. That leaf-covered path is one of my favorites.

The girls loved playing in and throwing the leaves. Our boy likes to wield sticks and check the holes in the base of the trees for wild animals. He does point up the the beautiful leaves and say "Treeee! Woah!"

We also had Carly's first field trip! I found a sitter for the twins and joined in on the fun. We went back to our favorite apple orchard/pumpkin patch (only the third time this fall). We learned about how apples grow, how they make cider, got to pick an apple and a pumpkin, and got to eat a doughnut. But hands down, the highlight of the trip was riding on a real school bus. Carly talked about it endlessly leading up to the big day, and was absolutely beaming when she climbed on. Absolutely adorable. I'm glad she doesn't know how much she'll hate it when she's 13.

The final weekend in October held the annual leaf rake at Jim and Linda's house. People from Chris's program come rake leaves, and get divine homemade chili and biscuits in return. Linda also put together cute Halloween things for the kids. This was another event Carly was really looking forward too, as she got a rake for her birthday in August. She was quite the hard little worker. Quinn and John really put their hearts into it too, though Quinn's broom did more spreading than raking, and John's popper wasn't particularly effective.

We also started to get into the Halloween spirit, perfecting our spooky face as a vampire princess, watching daddy carve a pumpkin (Carly inherited her mother's gag reflex, so she didn't participate), and painting the pumpkin she picked at her field trip.

The week of Halloween arrived, and no one was thinking about Halloween. Monday was a big day: Chris officially proposed his dissertation. Prepping for his proposal involved a lot of writing, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of stress, and a lot of practicing. All reports say he did a most fabulous job. He passed and now has permission to go full-steam ahead with his dissertation. He'll be gathering data on pregnant women in three locations (Lansing, Saginaw MI, and Salt Lake City), so it is a great thing, and we are exciting so see it all come together.

Tuesday was just as big of a day in Carly's book: she got to be the snack girl. You see, the snack girl/boy gets to be the line leader and it is a pretty exciting thing. This was Carly's first chance to be the snack girl, and she has literally been talking about it since she started school. Halloween was two days later, and all she cared about was being snack girl.

Halloween finally arrived. The day before was bright and sunny and 65 degrees. But Halloween was dreary and rainy, and we were trying to figure out how to go about our day. Carly's school party was Halloween morning. It was so fun to go and watch her in her classroom. When did she get so big? They paraded through the elementary school and my heart was full. She's the best.

On Halloween afternoon we went to an assisted living center to "trick-or-treat". There were residents gathered in the front lobby ready to hand out candy. John got one look at the wheel chairs and headed over to try to push. Luckily we caught him before he started saying "vroom!" It was a sweet experience, and I hope we brightened their day almost as much as they brightened ours.

On the way home we stopped at Tim Horton's for doughnuts with Halloween sprinkles and chocolate milk. Because Halloween doesn't have enough sugar already. Our super fancy dinner of jack-o-lantern cheesies was well-received, especially by Quinn, who liked it so much she didn't want to eat it.

Evening arrived and the rain was falling and the babies were exhausted, so Carly and I geared up for some mommy-daughter trick-or-treating. It is hard not living in a traditional neighborhood, but this year worked out well as the management handed out orange pumpkins people could tape to their doors if they were handing out candy. Spotting pumpkin doors became a game all its own, and as one of the very few trick-or-treaters in the area, Carly got several handfuls of candy at each door. The rain faded into a mist, and it turned into a most perfect evening for candy-gathering. At one point Carly said to me, "One of my most favoritest things in the whole world is going trick-or-treating with you." I felt exactly the same way.

A word on our sweet things' costumes. I let Carly lead the way on this one. She could pick whatever she wanted, and I'd try to work the twins off of it. She picked Tiger Lily from Peter Pan in mid-September. It surprised me; all the options open and she picks Tiger Lily? I held out for weeks, and even tested her will with pictures of other ideas, but she held tough. She is so fab. She has been interested in Native Americans, and was so excited to dress like one. We've been reading books about Sacajawea, and she's always loved Pocahontas. After I finished her costume, she put it on and said, "I'm like Tiger Lily, Sacajawea, AND Pocahontas, because they were all brave heroines!" Yes, you certainly are.

Working off of Tiger Lily was as easy as it comes, and John and Quinn made a natural pairing for Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. And the more I thought about it, the more humorous it became to me just how well their costumes fit them.

John. Such a boy. Always getting into trouble. Loves to be rough and wild. Not too many worries. Absolutely no interest in growing up.

Quinn. So sweet and beautiful and tiny. You can't help but just love her. But behind that sweet face she is actually quite the stubborn little stinker if she doesn't get her way. But she gets away with it, because look at her.

Carly. Strong and brave and quiet, but lets loose into a boisterous, fun personality when she's in her comfort zone. As loyal as they come to her family. 

I love these sweet Neverland babies.
I'm hoping this means they'll never grow up.

As a life-long fan of October, I just loved coming across this quote:

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

October sure makes life a whole lot sweeter.
I'm so thankful for another beautiful one in the books.