Thursday, May 30, 2013

School is Out for the Summer!

This morning Hank finished his last day of 1st grade (with a STRAIGHT 4 report card, I might add), and we didn't waste any time celebrating the last day of school and the first day of summer vacation!

First, we stopped at the Firehouse Donut shop for a late breakfast treat--delicious!

The boys weren't super excited about going shopping, but when I explained to them why it was necessary to buy new swim trunks, they were happy to cooperate.

Sporting their new swim shorts, the boys joined the rest of the neighborhood kids at the park for a "shaving cream fight." Kind of a weird event...but super fun!

After the boys hosed themselves off, we dropped in at Aaron's office for a quick lunch run at Costco. Always love visiting my sweetheart.

The day is still young and there is more partying to be done! Hank and Max are playing with neighbor friends now while the little boys are sleeping. Next it's dinner with family and cousins at Nana Grover's house. Still to come is our traditional family meeting and Summer Bucket List planning. Ah! Only 1 day in and I am loving summer vacation!

Spring Soccer

By some oversight, I seem to have neglected to blog at all about our exciting spring soccer season that just ended. The boys both played on the same teams from last fall, so it was fun to see their improvement now that they had time to acclimate to their teammates, the coach, and the game. I can't say these boys are Real Salt Lake material at this point, but they loved running around to and fro, chasing the ball, and even making occasional contact with the ball...whether it be intentional or unintentional it doesn't really matter. Next up: T-ball!

Second String

As I was perusing through the billions of pictures stored on my phone last night, trying to free up storage space, I came across several photos that, for whatever reason, didn't make the first string cut and never made it onto the blog, but were still too cute to just leave in photo storage purgatory. So, a random photo dump from the past month or two:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


We knew it was time to buy Hank a new pair of shoes when the sole was pulling away from the upper part of the shoe, the sole itself was traction-less, and his little toes crammed into the toe-box. What I wasn't expecting was for Hank to have any opinions about the purchase of his replacement shoes. No, sir. Hank very clearly stated that he wanted Nikes, like all the other kids in his class (as opposed to the Target clearance or Children's Place specials I usually pick up for him). Funny. He'll walk around the entire day with chocolate smeared on his face, his hair all wack-a-do with bed-head, and his shirt on backwards without a care in the world--even when these things are brought to his attention!--yet, he felt having Nike shoes was extremely important. Hank's pleadings struck a chord with Aaron, who still carries insecurities about not having the "name brand" shoes from his own childhood, and off we went to buy Hank some Nikes! Anyways, the point of this long explanation about Hank's new shoes is that I felt like a mini-milestone was reached in that Hank expressed his very first fashion/self-image opinion. Not sure if I'm ready for that! Hank's second mini-milestone of the day occured when we brought those shiny new shoes home and it was time to learn how to tie the laces! It was a sweet parenting moment to sit down beside Hank and practice and practice together until he got the hang of the "bunny ear" method. He is super excited to wear his new Nikes, with self-tied laces, to school tomorrow!

Another mini-milestone happened tonight when Hank let Aaron yank his wiggley little baby tooth out! After so many big-kid milestones in one night, I was comforted that my Nike-wearing, shoe-lace-tying, baby-teeth-losing boy of mine, still went to bed with his tooth under his pillow awaiting the tooth fairy:)

Memorial Day

Any day that Aaron doesn't have to work, that the sun is shining, and that we get to spend together, is a special day indeed! We celebrated our Memorial Day with a morning hike to Donut Falls. The online hiking websites describe the hike as "family-friendly, easy, one mile each way" so we thought this hike would be right up our alley. I will just add that with a 25lb kid strapped to your back, and another carried on the front, two wild boys chasing each other up the trail, hoards of fellow-hikers to maneuver around, and fast-paced water racing through the stream at this early point in the season, the hike became slightly more challenging. Seriously, when we passed the first few families along the trail, each with their wholesome looking kids in tow, I thought, "Wow. It's amazing that we live in a place where there are so many other families just like us!" Tra la la, Tra la la. A ways further up the trail, when we had to wait in line to climb down to the water, hurriedly snapped a quick picture at the falls and then moved aside to let the other hikers take their two-minutes appreciating the falls, I thought, "Wow. It's amazing that we live in a place where there are so many other families just like us" (and I don't mean that in a positive way). All my complaining aside, we actually had a lovely morning, with some great friends, creating fun memories and traditions with our family, and enjoying all of Mother Nature's goodness.

Joey was a champ, just chilling in his backpack while Ben provided the musical accompaniment on our hike, just singing his little tunes all along the way.

While my sweetheart and I were holding hands along the trail, these two little buddies reached out and held each others' hands too!

Preschool Graduates!

Both of my little preschoolers will return to another year of preschool in the fall, but we celebrated all of their hard work, learning, and end of the school year with a graduation program anyways!

It thrilled and relieved me that Max came home after each preschool class with new information learned! To be honest, I have been less than thorough about drilling Max's ABCs, sight words, and days of the week/month, so it was money well spent to ensure that Max learned his basics. Plus, he had a blast this year learning new songs, creating darling crafts, and making new friends!

Since Ben didn't qualify for preschool (based on his birthdate) until late in the school year, he only spent about eight weeks in class before school let out for the summer. Even though every single day of his entire eight weeks of preschool he cried big, sad tears when I dropped him off, I am so happy with the progress that Ben made in such a short amount of time! His vocab base seems to be expanding and he is even experiementing with pairing two or three words together to express a thought like, "Max! Fruit Loop. Mouth!" to tell me that Max had stolen his cereal, or, "Fruit Loop. Drop. Sorry!" to apologize for spilling his cereal all over the floor. I love it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Note to Self

Three years ago on this date, I thought my life was over. Life had lost it's meaning, and therefore had no purpose. The despair, pain, and anguish that consumed my heart felt like it had settled into my chest permanently. I was certain that I was sentenced to a life of misery--enduring each day merely so that it could be crossed off the books forever. I didn't know at the time whether or not my infant son would survive his battle with bacterial meningitis, but I knew that his outcome was grim and that our course had been changed forever by his injuries, and I felt inadequate to carry such a heavy burden that I was sure would be my fate. My only hope came from my knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the promise that one day, maybe not in this life, but someday, I could feel happiness again. Those were very dark, very difficult days. I wish I knew then how much my heart could change in only three-years' time. Oh how I wish I could tell my three-years-ago self what I know now!

I would tell my three-years-ago self that life will be good again. Life will change, and it may not ever be the same, but it will still be a good life. A really good life. I would tell my three-year-ago self that the sick, fragile little babe that I held in my arms, rocking and singing primary songs, would soon be a healthy, strong, and happy little boy...who still loves it when his mom holds him in her arms and sings him primary songs. Ben is possibly the happiest little boy I have ever known. His smile is priceless and his laugh can change the world, my world anyways. Ben is a gift; it is a priviledge to have such a strong, valiant spirit in our family. I wish I could give my three-year-ago self a hug and a promise that things will work out. Everything will be ok. There will be lows, but the highs will far outweigh the lows. If only my three-year-ago self could see the miracles that would take place in our home, the love that would deepen within our family, and the relationship that we would develop with the Lord. Above all else, I would remind my three-year-ago self to hold tight to that tiny particle of faith, put all my trust in the Lord, and pray to Him constantly for guidance. I know now, that my Heavenly Father has never left me. He carried me through those dark days, knowing that those trials and lessons would prepare me for something better. God is good! Life is good!

I love this little boy with my whole soul. I am so proud of how far he has come and I look forward to walking with him, holding his hand, wherever the next three years--and beyond--may take us.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mom's Day!

Boy, a girl could get used to all of this special attention and spoiling. I propose every day be Mother's Day! All in favor say, "aye." Aye! All opposed say, "nay."......Well, then, done! 

My boys began showering me with gifts on Friday when they each brought home from school their beautiful artwork, thoughtful notes, and sweet gifts.

Looking objectively at Hank's portrait of me, I think he captured my poofy hair, but I'm not sure about the crossed eyes and stuck out tongue.

Translation: It bugs my mom when..."she goes the wrong way to a place she has been." Very true, Hank.

Translation: My mom's favorite TV show is...."Chopped, because she wants to learn about cooking."

Translation: To relax my mom likes to..."make cookies and watch T.V."

Translation: I love it when my mom: "makes cereal. She gets a bowl and I tell her what I want and she gets the milk and a spoon and she gives it to me and Yum."

Hank's sweet teacher sent the kids home with a Mother's Day "breakfast in bed"--a muffin wrapped in a brown paper sack with a cute little corresponding poem. When I woke up the next morning, this is what I found waiting for me on my bedside table:

Max made this sweet little card for me:

Here is Benny's masterpeice:

My Mother's Day included all of my favorite things: yummy food, lots of sunshine, plenty of relaxation, and lots of love from my most favorite boys. When I woke up, Aaron presented me with this yummy breakfast treat, served on our "Special Day Plate" nonetheless:

After our sinful breakfast, we got some fresh air and a little exercise walking/riding on the trail:

It must have been a special occasion because instead of spending my Sunday morning wrestling with the boys to get them all fed, run through the bathtub, and dressed, I got to relax in the sunshine on the back deck and enjoy a book:

After a morning of indulging and relaxing, Aaron gave me the most awesome gift of being able to listen and enjoy my church meetings kid-free. It gave me a very much needed spiritual up-lift and a moment to re-center myself and re-evaluate my sacred role as a mother.

After church, it was a few more gifts and then off to Nana and Papa's for a family gathering and barbeque.

So often I lose sight of the big picture when it comes to raising my children. I get lost in the mountains of laundry and heaping piles of dirty dishes, that I forget the signficance of the work that I am doing. I get so focused on making sure that all of the vegetables get eaten, the homework gets finished, and teeth get brushed, that sometimes I forget to make sure that no-reason fun is had, their little self-esteems are raised, and life lessons are taught and exemplefied. Some days I think to myself, "why bother?," "does any of it even matter?," and "does anyone notice or care?" This quote is the perfect reminder to me of my sacred role as a mother in our Father in Heaven's eternal plan:

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sounds of lullabies? The great armistices made by miltary men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchen prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this." --Neal A. Maxwell

I am so humbled in this work of raising my sons to become righteous young men, priesthood-holders, missionaries, and fathers. I love my boys dearly and thank my Father in Heaven every day for the blessing of being their mother and pray for His guidance and counsel as I carry out His work.

Lastly, as I stumble through my experience as a mother in equal parts trial and error and prayer, I am grateful for my mother who supports me and encourages me every step of the way. She celebrates with me in my accomplishments, she offers simple company through the doldrums, and she carries my burdens with me when I'm struggling. I love you, Mom! Also, Happy Mother's Day to the special lady who raised the man of my dreams--if my sons turn out half as well as their father, I'll have succeeded.