Sunday, March 9, 2014

Surprise date

This is a very quick post to document the surprise date my awesome husband planned for us last night. The only thing he told me was, "Wear a (loose) dress." It started at Fired Pie (awesome, btw), followed by going to a 1940s swing dance at Falcon Field, complete with a live band. It's been about 11 years since I've done any Lindy Hop (or much of any dancing) and we definitely stumbled through it, but we had such a fun time. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole night. We took this (blurry) shot with my cell phone before going into the dance. I have a pretty great husband.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

It's time for my annual year in review post. It's pretty sad that my last year in review post is on the same page on this blog...I only had to scroll down a handful of posts to find it. But I guess that speaks to how priorities change and how I have my hands full with my two little cuties. Still, I enjoy reflecting on the year with this post, so here it is. 

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? I became a stay-at-home mom. 
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yes, for the most part. Yes, I'll make a few this year but plan to keep them very short and simple. Too many is too overwhelming. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Friends in my ward. 
4. Did anyone close to you die? I found out a childhood friend, Dennis Stauffer, passed away in a car accident a couple of years ago. We hadn't kept in close contact so I didn't find out until last month. We had our baptisms together, were in the same ward and went to the same Elementary School. I last saw him when I was 18 and took a bus from Minneapolis, where I was nannying, to Blacksburg, VA, and visited him. It's sad, especially because he had a 1-year-old son when he died. 
5. What countries did you visit? None
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? More patience, more organization and better time management skills. I seriously want to focus on these three things this year. 
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory and why? April and October: I left my job at CPS in April, which was difficult for me to do. I became so attached to my job in a way that you do when you go through something that is very trying and provides opportunities for serving others and personal growth. Add awesome coworkers to the mix and it's very difficult to walk away. I then volunteered there once a week until October, when I no longer had childcare for my kids. Again, I was very sad to leave. 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being a stay-at-home mom has been very eye-opening. (Wow, it's difficult but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be at home with my boys.)
9. What was your biggest failure? No big regrets but lots of little things I would like to work on. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious
11. What was the best thing you bought? A season pass to the AZ Science Center for $30 (a living social deal). I took the boys almost once a a week during the summer. Oliver loved it and it was a great way to fill our time in an educational way (plus being in an air conditioned building was a definite plus). 
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Oliver has come such a long way since the beginning of the year. It was rough for him after Joshua was born and his behavior reflected that. He is doing so much better (which I honestly have to credit Love & Logic to some degree...I'm not perfect at applying it but it was a turning point for me with him). We also got rid of overnight diapers this year. He's such a big boy now! 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Politicians always seem to fall into this category. I'm not very impressed with President Obama. 
14. Where did most of your money go? Formula + diapers would be big chunk of it. 
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to Hawaii in April. It was a much-needed break for these exhausted parents. We left the boys with my mom so we got to sleep in...amazing. 
16. What song will always remind you of 2013? More than just one: Feel This Moment by Pitbull, Closer by Teagan and Sara, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, Deamons by Imagine Dragons, Best Day Of My Life by American Authors, Royals by Lorde and Justin Timberlake (went to his concert with my friend, Autumn). 
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier in general. 
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. I hit my goal weight about six months ago, thanks to Weight Watchers. I now weigh less than I did before I got pregnant with Josh. 
c) richer or poorer? About the same. 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I would've had more time to do more family history (scrapbooking, journaling, blogging, etc. - especially the boys' books). This is my same answer as last year...still on my to-do list. I need to make it a priority. 
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Possibly Facebook. I'm not on there all the time but a couple of times a day, which feels like too much right now. (Again, I want to prioritize.) 
20. How did you spend Christmas? With our little family. It was the first Christmas in a few years where it was just us. It was nice. Wendel and I especially enjoyed seeing Oliver's excitement; this was the first year he was really into it. He loved the anticipation of opening his gifts almost more than the gift itself. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2012? Even more with my kids than before. I didn't think that was possible. 
22. What was your favorite TV program? Parenthood still remains a favorite but Big Bang Theory is a pretty close second. (Those are the only two shows we watch.) 
23. What was the best book you read? Love & Logic, followed by How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk. Both were life-changing for me. 
24. What was your greatest musical discovery? I really like Imagine Dragons. 
25. What did you want and get? A vacation that involved sleeping in and eating yummy food.
26. What did you want and not get? Nothing comes to mind. 
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Nothing really amazing. There were fun ones, like Pitch Perfect, Thor and Iron Man 3. 
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34. It was not my best birthday ever. 
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I can't think of anything. I feel very happy and blessed. 
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Comfortable, casual and inexpensive (I mostly shop at thrift stores...there are some pretty great finds to be had though, if you're willing to do a little looking.)
31. What kept you sane? Wendel. (Same answer as last year...he's my rock.)
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Um...? 
33. What political issue stirred you the most?  6,000 CPS cases were never assigned to investigators over the past four years and as a result several supervisors are on administrative leave. There's a lot of attention in the media on CPS right now. I'm always interested in following CPS in the news because the people reporting the news really have no idea what it's like to be on the front lines. It frustrates me that those who are doing the difficult job of keeping Arizona's children safe are blamed no matter what they do. Meanwhile, they are underpaid, overworked (man, are they overworked...the amount of work is literally impossible to keep up with) and get burned out. Show me a politician who makes improving CPS a priority and that person will have my vote. I did recently read these ideas from Governor Jan Brewer, which is a great start. I really hope to see these put into action. 
34. Who did you miss? My coworkers (after I left CPS). I really miss them a lot, still. 
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013: Here's two: 1.Parenting is difficult. Not all kids are the same. It's easy to judge other moms or feel judged by other moms as a result of differences in parenting. I've come to realize that there are many different ways to be a "good mom" and no matter what kind of good mom you are, be the best you can for your kids, don't judge others and try not to be offended easily. 2. It's good to be busy doing good things. I'm grateful for a busy calling (Primary Secretary) and the busyness of taking care of two, active little boys. 
36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "I just want to feel this moment" by Pitbull. And when I say "this moment" I refer to sleep and how amazing it is. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep as a mom but man, do I miss it. Sleep is really amazing. 

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

mommy wins

I was feeling overwhelmed this evening. It had been a busy day. The kids were both melting down, Joshua was especially fussy (he's teething) and clingy, the dishes were stacked up, toys were all over the kitchen floor (which I kept stepping on), I hadn't made dinner, the entire house was messy and cluttered and I felt exhausted. (As a side note, I always feel exhausted taking care of two energetic boys). I felt frustrated that I do the same things over and over again, just to do them again. I clean up; Oliver takes the cushions off of the couch so he can jump off of the couch onto them (he is only allowed to do this with our old couch in our not-as-nice living room), he brings a pile of blankets and pillows (big and small) into the living room or in other places throughout the house, which he calls his "nest." I cleaned out the junk drawer; the next day it was a disaster again. I decorated our credenza with Fall decorations; an hour later Oliver took off with the little pumpkins and was playing with them. I sweep and mop; Oliver accidentally drops food and cuts paper onto the floor. I do the dishes; they keep coming. I do laundry and forget to transfer it to the dryer so I wash it again...Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I've been walking around Disneyland all day with how sore my feet are from standing and then realize I have hardly sat down the entire day. Sometimes (like today), the boys don't nap at the same time and all I want to do is close my eyes for 15 minutes but just as I get both kids to sleep, the one who was asleep first wakes up. I rarely get through my to-do list. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't focus much time or energy on cleaning (specifically our bedroom, which is the most neglected room in the house and far from the sanctuary I wish it was) because the demands of children are far too great. Sometimes I feel I am in the middle of the forest and it's difficult to see the beauty because I'm too wrapped up with what is right in front of me.

One thing I miss about working outside of my home is the positive affirmation I got from my supervisor and co-workers. Maybe it was due to the nature of the job (working for CPS is a really tough job) or because I'm in the social work field or because my supervisor was just amazing...but he gave us a lot of positive affirmation, support and encouragement. It's nice to hear you're doing okay to give you that push to keep going. It's nice to feel appreciated. Maybe I shouldn't need that but I guess I do.

So tonight I started thinking about my "mommy wins" today: those positive things I did for my kids that I sometimes don't recognize.
  • I took my kids to the park this morning. Oliver was able to run around and get some energy out and play with his friend. I held Joshua on my lap and we went down the slide several times together. 
  • I took the boys to the Fun Van program at the library (an educational/social program for kids, which also includes a parent education/support group for the parents). We went on a nature walk with the kids, sang together, and played together. 
  • I checked out books for Oliver and read to him before his nap. 
  • I sat with Oliver on his blanket on the kitchen floor and we ate yogurt popsicles together. 
  • I played with Joshua while Oliver slept, tickling him and making him laugh. I encouraged him to balance while standing on his own. I held him while he drank his bottle. 
  • I told Oliver and Joshua I love them throughout the day and flashed the "I love you" sign to Oliver. 
  • I raced with Oliver to encourage him to go potty and get into the car so we could leave on time. I play games with him to motivate him, which he likes (and which exhausts me). 
  • I gave Oliver positive feedback for going potty, drawing pictures, sharing with Joshua, etc. I had him put stickers on the calendar (once he gets a week's worth he gets a prize) so he could see how well he's doing. 
  • I didn't yell at Oliver. I felt frustrated at times but kept my cool (not always the case). 
  • I kissed both boys numerous times throughout the day. 
  • I fed Oliver a healthy dinner of chicken, broccoli, pasta and apples. And he ate all of it. (I try really hard to feed my kids healthy food.)
  • I prayed with Oliver before lunch and dinner. We thanked Heavenly Father for all He blesses us with and especially our eternal family and a daddy who works so hard to support us. 
  • I only allowed Oliver to watch two hours of tv. I encouraged him to play and use his imagination, color, and put stickers on his pumpkin. This is more difficult for me than sticking him in front of the tv but I'm determined not to do it.
  • I held Joshua in my arms tonight after I read to him and rocked him in his glider as I prayed out loud. I thanked Heavenly Father for sending him to our family. I prayed for our boys' safety and health. I told Joshua how much I love him as I put him in his crib, nestled in his sleep sack. 
  • I made sure Oliver brushed his teeth this morning and evening. 
  • I read from the scriptures this evening. I know that staying close to the Holy Ghost is imperative as I'm raising my children and this is how I can invite Him to reside with me. I feel inspired as I read from the scriptures. I can't say I do it every day as I should but I try to do it and appreciate when I do. Tonight I read in Doctrine & Covenants 121: 26, "God shall give you knowledge by His Hold Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost..." which is a reminder that I need that knowledge in this important job of raising children. (As I side note, last night I went visiting teaching and the lesson was on the divine mission of Jesus Christ as the creator. Part of the lesson talked about our divine mission as women. There was a quote by Joseph Smith: “You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith. “If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!—if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates." I love that! I need angles as my associates. Being a mother is not easy. Parenting with intent, striving to raise responsible children who turn into responsible adults in a loving but firm manner, children who love God and have testimonies of the restored gospel, responding with love and patience when I want to pull my hair out, knowing what is best for my children and how to help them...yes, I will gladly take angels as my associates in this role. I also read this tonight in Doctrine & Covenants 123:17, "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren (and sisters), let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." Sometimes I need that reminder to be cheerful in all things...especially when I am constantly exhausted and the demands are many.)
  • As a side note, the woman we visit taught bore her testimony about what a priviledge it is to stay at home with your children. She has stayed home in the past but now has to work full time outside of her home. As she talked, her eyes filled up with tears and I couldn't help but think about what a difficult transition it was for me to leave my job and stay home but how grateful I am for that opportunity now. It really is a priveldge and I'm so thankful I can be with my boys every day. 
I guess I did okay today. If I sift through the mundane tasks, I can see that I supported my children and helped them feel safe (and kept them safe) and happy. I encouraged Oliver's creativity and imagination, allowed him to get exercise and get energy out, strengthened our relationship as mother and son with both boys, and prayed for / sought inspiration on their behalf. 

Parenting is difficult (to say the least). It's nice to sit back and take note of the "wins" once in a while. 

I feel so blessed to be their mom. 
Photos taken in August 2013 (Oliver: 3.5 years, Joshua: 8 months)






Saturday, October 19, 2013

the story of us

I was reading through a list of journal jar questions and came across this:

What convinced you most in your choice of a spouse?

This is a question worth answering, one I want my kids and grandkids to know the answer to.

Wendel and I have known each other for a long time. We knew each other in high school, mostly because we were in the same ward. His family moved to Mesa, Arizona from Zionsville, Indiana his Junior year of high school. I was in Utah at the time but moved back my Junior year / his Senior year. We were only ever acquaintances in high school (this post explains all about that). Picking up from that post, we parted ways that summer of 99, when Wendel was dropping me off from a date and I thought he was going to kiss me. I stepped away and told him I really wanted to serve a mission (which he already knew), I was writing a missionary and I was dating someone else (Wendel and I had only been casually dating - I was casually dating others and one guy I was seeing was getting a bit more serious). He was supportive of my mission, which always impressed me, but I think he figured things wouldn't work out between us. We left on a positive note but with no intention to write to each other while I was gone or try to date in the future. I remember thinking he was such a fun guy and it would be fun to get to know him better and spend more time with him. The timing wasn't right though.

We really stated dating seriously after my mission. While I was on my mission, I worked with a family from Russia. I thought about writing to Wendel, because he served his mission in Russia, but I never did. I received a letter while on my mission from one of our mutual friends, Julie Berky. In her letter, she mentioned Wendel Schultz was engaged. I didn't think much of it, other than I was happy for him, until I got home from my mission.

My mom not only got married and moved to a new town while I was on my mission, but she and her husband moved into my mission president's (old) house! I came home to a new family - two step-brothers and a step-sister and a step-father I had never met. I was working full-time at a bank as an Administrative Assistant (thanks to my step-dad for helping me get the job) and spent my free time working out, sometimes hanging out with girls from my ward or my sister, Lindsey, going to the gym or walking/running in my neighborhood, or reading scriptures and writing in my journal.

I was heartbroken about a boy and trying to move on. Things had not worked out at all with the guy I wrote to for three years (while we both served our missions...seriously thought I was going to marry that guy). There was another guy I had also written while on my mission. Things were pretty serious with him too. He actually proposed to me before I left and I told him no. He wrote to me faithfully and would've married me. I loved him and loved his family but I just didn't feel right about it. He wasn't the best person for me so I told him not to be at the airport when I came home. His mom later told me the day he got that letter from me, he proposed to the girl he had been dating. Even though he was engaged, he still came to my homecoming. It was very uncomfortable for me and I even doubted my decision to break things off with him. I went to his wedding reception and felt like my heart was breaking. It was a difficult time. I had dated a few guys since I'd been home but nothing serious.  One was a guy I had a crush on since 6th grade. I would write my name with his last name all through school and dreamed of marrying him someday. He was visiting Utah and asked me out. We had fun together and he is a great guy. We loved dancing together and picked up right where we left off with that. We even tried to do the long distance thing (he was living in Arizona at the time) but I felt like our communication wasn't very good and it just wasn't happening. There was another guy who turned out to be completely wrong for me in every way and ending that relationship was a very good decision.

I had been home six months and Wendel had crossed my mind a time or two, mostly because my sister (who loved Wendel when we dated before) kept bringing him up. She told me I should email him, almost daily. I told her he was married and she told me to at least tell him congratulations. I finally figured I could at least do that. I sent him an email telling him I heard he got married and congratulating him. He wrote back and told me he was never engaged and didn't know what I was talking about. He said he had tried emailing me at my old email address about once a month from the time he knew I was coming home from my mission. He then asked, "Dinner sometime?" That was in October of 2002. On our first date (for the second time), we talked on the front porch, which led to the living room, until 4:00 am. We hadn't held hands or kissed at this point. We were just talking and laughing and we couldn't get enough. I couldn't remember the last time I smiled so much. I felt so comfortable and happy and couldn't wait to see him again. He was down in Provo, going to school at BYU, and I was living in Centerville at my mom and step-dad's house. He came up a lot and I went down to Provo sometimes too. In December we took a road trip to Arizona together and unbeknown to me, he had a ring with him. It was also on that trip that the roads were closed in Flagstaff due to bad weather and we had to get a hotel...together. We had a rule in that hotel that we would only kiss in the hallway, not in the room, and we slept in separate beds. It worked but I was falling in love with him, which meant all sorts of anxiety flags were going up for me.

Luckily, he did not propose to me on that trip. He actually thought he lost the ring and was very worried about it. He didn't tell me he had a ring but said he lost something very important and from the way he was talking, I thought it could be a ring, which freaked me out. We had only been seriously dating for two months! I had always been nervous about marriage; sure, it was fun to think about being married someday but when it came down to it, I was terrified and didn't know how I would ever take that leap of faith with anyone. My parents are divorced and I saw several unhappy marriages to add to my "quiver" of reasons why the thought of marriage gave me an anxiety attack (literally). There was my dad, who told me how difficult marriage is, and bribed me not to get married until I was 24 with the promise of a car if I kept my end of the bargain (which I did...and I never did see that car). He also wanted me to kiss 10 guys before I got married and Wendel just so happened to be #9. Now, my dad was probably just pulling a number out - not being literal but just asking me to date several guys before settling down for the rest of my life. But to a teenage girl who hung on to every word her dad ever told her, I took it very literally. I did not want to repeat his mistakes and if this was his advice and wisdom, I would take it. And I did.

Wendel did propose to me in December of 2002. He knew by this point just how nervous I was about marriage. I knew he had a ring, as he had told me he did, and I had told him I wasn't ready for it yet. He said he was okay with that and we could take it slowly. But one evening in December I was leaving his house in Provo to drive back up to Centerville. He had told me to come back if the roads were bad. The roads ended up being so bad, I could hardly see in front of me. I called him and told him I was coming back to sleep on his couch because the roads weren't safe. When I was in his house for the second time that evening, he started walking toward me in the living room and stumbled a little, saying something was wrong with his knee. I thought he was hurt but then saw him kneeling in front of me, holding a little white box. My heart started racing as he opened it and I saw the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It was exactly my taste; simple but beautiful. He told me he loved me and asked me if I would be his wife. I didn't answer right away. I was surprised and nervous and excited all at once. I then said yes and threw my arms around him. It felt right to say yes; I never felt that it was wrong. However, it only took a day or two for the anxiety to come back. I took the ring off and told him I couldn't be engaged right now.

It was the way he reacted that convinced me most in my choice of my spouse. 

He was understanding. He was patient. He held me and cried with me. He told me he would wait and work through this with me if this is what I wanted. He paid for me to go to counseling to work through the anxiety. He gave me space. He drove up to Centerville more than once, late and night, when I called him crying and just needed him to be there with me. His heart took a beating during the next two years, as we were engaged a total of three times before actually getting married. At one point, I broke things off entirely and moved to Logan, where I attended Utah State for a semester. I even dated someone else while I was there, and that absolutely broke Wendel's heart. I feel badly about that now but I was scared and needed space. That space and time away from Wendel helped me realize I didn't want to live my life without him. Wendel called and asked me if I would go to dinner with him on Valentine's Day. The guy I was dating also wanted to take me out on Valentine's Day. He had recently told me he loved me and I knew things were getting more serious from his point of view. I knew I had to make a decision. I told this guy I wanted to spend Valentine's Day with Wendel (whom he knew I was engaged to previously). He was completely shocked and hurt, which is understandable. He told me he needed time away from me and I told him I was going to spend some time with Wendel, as I still had feelings for him. Spending time with Wendel again felt so right. I felt like I was coming home. I spent a lot of time on my knees and at the temple, praying and pleading for guidance about Wendel. Over and over again, I felt peace come to my heart and the Spirit wash over me. I knew, without any doubt, it was right and pleasing to my Heavenly Father to marry him. It still scared me to take the leap of faith and I still had a million "what if" questions floating around in my mind. But after that semester in Logan, I told Wendel I wanted to marry him - for real this time - and for the third time, he asked me to be his wife. I told him I wouldn't be able to wear the ring until our wedding day, which I felt would help with the anxiety. He completely understood.

I spent ten days of our engagement in Australia, with my favorite mission companion (which was previously planned before we got engaged for the third time). This helped with my anxiety, to not be there planning the wedding. Wendel emailed me pictures of the invitations and other things and I gave my input. I came home a couple of weeks before our wedding. I had received several blessings from my step-dad, Dave, about Wendel. In one, he had told me when I walked through the doors of the temple on my wedding day, all of the anxiety I felt would wash away and I would feel complete peace about marrying Wendel. I wanted to believe this and held onto it fiercely. I was terrified I would be like the girl on "Runaway Bride" and run out of the temple crying. But as I exercised my faith, that blessing came to pass. I walked into the Bountiful, Utah temple on June 16, 2004 and saw Wendel standing there, smiling at me. I felt every bit of anxiety leave me and felt the Spirit wash over me. I felt joy and excitement and knew it was right to be there at that time, marrying Wendel Schultz. I knew there was no one I would rather solve a problem with and I knew he would be by my side no matter what.




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The decision to stay home

Stopping by to dust off the old blog.  I still think blogging is great and I still want to blog but I've been surprised at how busy I've been staying home with two kids.  It has been quite the adjustment. 

Deciding to stay home with my children was not an easy decision for me.  I know it is an easy decision for many women but I really struggled with it.  This is not due to not loving my children or not wanting to spend time with them.  I was in graduate school when Oliver was born and then I worked for CPS to pay off my MSW up until April of this year.  It became comfortable to me.  While I was apprehensive to work for CPS, I learned several things about myself and was reminded that I can do hard things.  I liked interviewing children and having them trust and open up to me.  I liked being the voice for those who could not defend themselves.  I appreciated my supportive supervisor and co-workers and enjoyed working in an environment with people who were there because they care about the safety and well-being of children.  I found joy in something I never thought I would do or want to do.  And yet here I am, looking back on an extremely difficult job, appreciating the opportunity I had to make a difference.  After I told my supervisor I was going to turn in my notice, I cried.  I was that attached to my job.  Sure there were plenty of difficult things about my job - I'm not trying to candy-coat the high case loads, getting yelled at on a regular basis, spending hours in court to simply stand before the judge for 30 seconds, conducting interviews on a 120 degree summer afternoon in Arizona on someone's front porch, seeing and hearing heartbreaking situations over and over again to the point where I became objective to the words in the reports...the days were never long enough to accomplish what was required of me and paperwork was always stacked high on my desk and shelves.  My message light was constantly blinking, demanding my attention, and I often cringed when my phone rang, dreading who might be on the other end of the receiver and what they might be upset about.  But the good and the bad - it became a part of me.  It strengthened my character and gave me hope that even though most people don't, people can change.  It gave me confidence that I can do anything if I am determined, feel right about it and have support.  It made me appreciate my blessed life; my beautiful children, my wonderful husband, who - though isn't perfect - is perfect for me and treats me with respect.  This is why it was difficult to close that chapter of my life, if only temporarily.

Staying home has been an adjustment not only for me but for Oliver as well.  We have both learned a few things and things are going much more smoothly than they were initially.  The other day I had to stand back and soak up the joy I felt as I heard Oliver repeating the words from the book, The Little Engine that Could, as he pushed his little trains along their wooden track on the living room floor.  I find myself smiling from ear to ear as Oliver and I dance around the living room to music or kick the ball back and forth as Joshua is jumping and smiling in his jumper nearby.  I love watching Josh wobble as he's learning how to sit on his own and rock back and forth on his hands and knees as he's building up the courage to begin crawling.  I love that Oliver seeks my comfort when he falls down or doesn't feel well.  I love that I am there to comfort him and give him hugs and kisses and put bandaids on his scrapped knees.  I love seeing the pure joy on Oliver's face as I chase him and tickle him and he laughs uncontrollably.  I know someday he won't eagerly say, "Mommy, you want to chase me?"  Instead he will want to be in his bedroom with the door closed, listening to music or doing his own thing.  He won't always come to me or his dad when he's seeking comfort.  Today, he wants to be just like his dad and copies him constantly.  If daddy walks out to the truck with his hat on backwards and pushes the buttons to unlock the code to the truck door, Oliver is following suit, turning his hat around backwards and pushing the buttons as well before climbing into his carseat.  This is such an impressionable time where I have an opportunity to influence my children for good.  It is a time to put my past endeavors aside and focus on the things of eternity - the things that really matter most right now, which things are putting my efforts into raising our children and strengthening my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily.
I've realized only recently how imperative raising children is to our learning experience here on earth.  I believe there are things I am learning as I'm raising my children that would be difficult to learn otherwise.  (Also, as a side note, I believe those who don't have the opportunity to raise children on earth will have the opportunity to do so at a later time.)  This is such a time of learning for me.  I look back on this post and I can't help but smile at the first-time-mother version of myself who had no idea how difficult raising children could be, no idea how I would pour over parenting books and kneel in prayer as tears run down my face, asking for patience and guidance in parenting my son.  And now here I am, right in the middle of it.  The daily grind, the mundane, the joyful, the trying moments (hours, days...), the self-talk to get myself through the day, the adorable quotes that make me laugh, the love that fills my heart to the brim for both of my children, the continuos daily chores (dishes, laundry, sweeping, feeding...), Joshua's adorable "square smile" and sweet disposition, reading the same stories over and over again, the way my heart melts when Oliver randomly says, "Mommy, I love you," the moments I get to witness that I would otherwise miss. 

I'm grateful for all of it.  I am blessed.



[Photos taken in May 2013]


Friday, February 22, 2013

Liebster "Award"

About a month ago, some friends nominated my blog for the "Liebster Award"...which basically isn't an award as much as a shout out saying they read my blog and want me to answer some questions here.  So here you go girls.  Better late than never.  (Note: I answered most of these questions a month ago and am just posting.)

Here are Ashlee's questions:

1.  What did you do on your last date? We went to the temple and then had a very late dinner (it was after 10:00 pm when we got there) at Native New Yorker. (Not really our restaurant of choice but we didn't have many options at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday night.)
2.  What was your GPA when you graduated from High School? I really don't know.  I didn't care about my GPA until I got into my social work program and decided I wanted to go to grad school. Then I became super anal about it.  
3.  What is your favorite form of exercise? As boring as it sounds, either walking on a treadmill or step aerobics in a class setting.  Lately I LOVE working out and look forward to hitting the gym with my friend, Autumn, once the kids are bed.  I've never looked forward to working out this much before.  (It might have something to do with having a little "me" time after being home with my kiddos all day.)

4.  Do you care what way the toilet paper goes on the holder? I prefer over the top but if it's the other way I'm not going to change it.  
5.  On average, how many hours of TV and/or movies do you watch per week? 1-2, often none. 
6.  What is your favorite dessert? Tough decision but I think I'll have to go with ice-cream. I love going out for ice-cream when I'm on a date with Wendel. I did have some homemade German Chocolate Pie yesterday that was absolutely amazing
 7.  How many days per week do you eat the same thing for lunch? 3-4. I usually make a veggie wrap now that I'm home.  When I was working, I ate Subway almost every single day and got so sick of it (not many options in the little town I worked in).
8.  How long was your longest labor?  17 hours with Oliver if you count when I first started feeling contractions to delivering. 
9.  What super-hero-power do you wish you had? I wish I could keep all kids safe.

10.  What is your biggest fear? Something happening to Wendel or our children. 

11.   What is your favorite vacation spot?  I've had a long standing dream of going to Ireland someday but having lived in Washington, maybe I'm okay if I don't ever make it there.  Hawaii was pretty cool (and no, I still haven't blogged about our Hawaii trip from 2010).  I would love to take Wendel to Australia someday to show him where I served my mission. 

Now for Katie's questions:
1. What is so cool about the person who nominated you?  When I was in grad school and had just had Oliver, I was kind of a mess.  Katie called me one day and invited me to come over for lunch.  We had a good conversation, I felt uplifted  and it was really what I needed at the time.  I later found out Katie felt prompted to call me and invite me over.  I was grateful she was in tune to get that impression.  It was probably a little thing to her but it was huge for me at that time.
2. What is your biggest regret of 2012? Really not sure.  I know that's a lame answer but that's all I've got.
3.  What was the highlight of 2012?  The birth of Joshua. 
4.  Who do you wish you still kept in touch with, but haven't seen in awhile? My guy friends from high school.  That's the thing about growing up and getting married - you kind of lose your friends of the opposite sex.  You might still be friendly with them but it's not the same level of friendship.  Back in high school, I was the only girl in our group of friends after my two best friends got married the year after graduation (two weeks apart from each other).  It was me and five guys and we did everything together.  I was particularly close to a three of them and really miss their friendship. 
5. If you could meet one famous person, who would it be? It would be interesting to meet Joseph Smith.
6.  What is the best part about your "job"?  My job at CPS - my supervisor.  He's the best supervisor ever.  My job as a mom - the cute things Oliver says and does and when he says "I love you mommy" or signs it to me it melts my heart.  Seeing Joshua smile (even though he's only three weeks old and I know it's not intentional at this point) is so sweet too. I also love being able to comfort my children.
7. Where is your favorite place to eat? (Restaurant.  Not "over the sink" or "in the tub")  I am kind of a foodie type person and could never pick just one but I will say Anthony's and Salty's are at the top of the list. I also love La Grande Orange.  Their Sonoma Salad is so good.
8. What is your dream job? I think I'll eventually be able to say being a stay at home mom...but I'm still working on it right now to be honest.  I do love being a social worker too.
9. Who is your hero, and why? My husband.  He has always supported me and believed in me.  I wouldn't have graduated with my BSW or MSW without him.  He is my rock.  I love his guts (and the rest of him too).
10. What is your lucky number? I really don't have one.
11.  What was the last book you read? I'm currently reading Parenting with Love and Logic.  Before that it was Heaven is Here.  

Thanks girls, this was fun.  This "award" reminded me of "tags."  Whatever happened to those?  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

around here lately...


This little guy is blessing our family with his sweet spirit. He is amazingly sweet and I sometimes cry when I look into his eyes because I can feel the Spirit so strongly. We are also incredibly tired and trying our best to transition to two kids. The most difficult part is Oliver's transition, which isn't going so smoothly. The "newborn stage" is so difficult for me. I know at some point it will get easier...looking forward to that. But for now, I will try to enjoy the sweet moments. We are so blessed.
I love how Oliver has integrated Joshua into his train-playing.