Friday, March 24, 2017

Ezra: Practice makes Perfect

Ezra is five years old and is experiencing and growing in a number of ways.

He and daddy have been trying violin lessons for the past few months.  He has a borrowed mini violin and bow in a tiny case.  Lessons usually last 5 minutes or less and involve essentially the same few notes in the same little "Twinkle, Twinkle" tune.  Ezra seems interested, but progress is slow.  I took the opportunity to try the violin and there is a lot to think about!  Chin position, hand position, bow position, fingers in the right place (press hard!); I can see how it might be overwhelming and slow-going.  Ezra tends to get discouraged easily, but I am hopeful that he will start to see his progress.  I am impressed with his efforts!

Ezra can ride a big boy bike--no training wheels!  He started his bike experience as a toddler with the popular "balance bike", and has happily ridden it everywhere for the past two years.  We were gifted a friend's old bike, which Ezra finally wanted to try out a few weeks before baby was born.  He and I practiced on several occasions, but he seemed defeated by fear of falling.  A few days after baby was born Ezra and daddy went out to give it another try.  And, to my surprise, he got it in just about an hour of practice!  Amazingly, he made the leap from balance bike to big bike without a single fall.  Here is a little video of the day he learned.  I am so proud of him!


Ezra is also trying spring soccer, and is on the learning curve there too.  Poor kid, he is so sports clueless.  Apparently we have not given Ezra much of a sports education.  

Mom: "Ezra, I signed you up for soccer.  You will be on your friend Teagan's team."
Ezra: "Ok, mom.  Do I need a helmet?"
Mom: "No, you wear a helmet to play football."
Ezra:  "Will I use one of those club things to hit the ball?"
Mom: "No, that is for baseball."

Ezra is trying to be a good sport with soccer, but it is obvious that even at five years old, many of his teammates have already played a year or two.  He is sort of obsessed with winning, and was pretty depressed when his team lost their first game.  But, he seemed to enjoy the physical activity, the comradery with other boys, and the idea of being a great soccer player.  He has an hour practice every Thursday night, and a game every Saturday afternoon for the next eight weeks.  Hopefully with practice it will be a positive first experience.       

Three Kids

Jonathan is a little more than six weeks old, and has started to smile at every happy face who comes into his view.  Ezra and Maren are adjusting, and for the most part, handling the change with grace.  Aside from preschool, soccer, and some very quick shopping trips, or short library visits, we stay close to home, and keep things very simple.  And, though we have had some rough days, for the most part, we maintain our delicate balance.  In a nutshell, that is our life right now.

Jonathan smiled for the first time at one month, and it seemed to be a great healing balm for some of the older sibling angst/jealousy.  Baby has a great defensive strategy: smile!  He is incredibly charming when armed with a huge grin.  Jonathan smiles especially keenly for Ezra, which, of course, is incredibly gratifying for big brother.  Maren is less engaged with the baby, and seems mostly disinterested, but she warms up when he breaks into a smile too.  

Last week, two neighbor boys rode their bikes over when Ezra and Maren were playing in the front yard.  I was pleased to hear my kids immediately share this news with the boys: "We have a new baby.  He is really cute.  Do you want to see him?"  The older boy, about 5, was interested.  They all paraded into the kitchen where he was dozing in a baby chair.  "Oh, he is so cute!," the boy exclaimed, "Can I pet him really gentle?"  Ezra and Maren proudly stood by.  "He is our baby, but you can touch him."


It is quite a marvel to see Jonathan changing from newborn so quickly.  At about one month, he turned a corner, and seemed to take a small, though significant step forward in his development.  In addition to smiling, he started turning his head to follow people and sounds, and began to differentiate his crying.  When he needs to complain, he will hang out a big pout lip, and whimper like a sad puppy, as if to say, "Oh mom, I'm so lonely, hold me please!"  I have figured out his tired cry, and know when it is time to find his softest blanket, swaddle him up with his pacifier, and rock.  He has also started to experiment with his voice, and makes funny high-pitched squeals and squeaks as he attempts to communicate with us.  And, not surprisingly, Jonathan is incredibly observant; a wide-eyed on-looker, soaking up all the sensory inputs of his world.  Consequently, he often fights sleep, gets overstimulated and overtired, and needs a warm bath (he loves the bath!), a lotion massage, and a good blanket swaddle to settle.

Three kids is indeed a challenge, and a lot gets left undone, but what a blessing to have another little sweetheart in our family!

     

Monday, February 27, 2017

Jonathan: A Birth Story

Jonathan surprised us all by being born on his due date.  In fact, I was convinced that of all the days he wouldn't come, he surely wouldn't come on February 8th.  After all, that was the day that John and Roslyn were getting on a plane and leaving town (in the morning), and my mom and sister were arriving at the airport (in the late afternoon).  There was a good chunk of time when no grandparents would be available to help with Ezra and Maren.  Any other day was less busy, so surely he would come on some other day, right?   

The morning of 8 February started with a little surprise.  I found a quantity of bodily fluids in the toilet after my first trip to the bathroom.  Did my water break?  I called my mid-wife and she suggested that I do some squats or take a walk to determine if my water had broken or if I was noticing a "bloody show", which simply signaled that labor could happen sometime in the future.  If my water had indeed broken, I needed to come into the hospital that morning, as soon as possible (as I tested positive for GBS).  If it was just the "bloody show", there was no urgency, and no need to come in.  Any movement on a broken water bag would cause more leaking; I was advised to watch for more leaking fluid.

Around 9 am I took a walk.  The morning was warmish, but very windy.  I went walking for about 25 minutes, and during that brisk walk, I started to get intense abdominal cramping.  I thought that it was likely some very intense Braxton-Hicks contractions because it was only in front.  But, they were so intense I had to pause and breathe through them.  I remember thinking how odd that was, since, of course, I couldn't be in labor.  I probably had seven or eight contractions during my walk, but they only lasted 10 seconds, so I didn't think much of them.  My walk clearly showed that my water had not broken, as I had no more leaking fluid.  My mid-wife called during my walk, and I gave her the news.  The urgency in the situation was gone.  "You will probably go into labor sometime this week," she guessed.  "We will probably see you sometime soon.  Keep us posted," she said.

Dallin was at home with Ezra and Maren, waiting to know the news from my walk too.  When I got home, I told Dallin he could probably go to work since my water had not broken.  Sometime before 10 am, he drove to work.  I took a shower, thinking the warm water might calm down the Braxton-Hicks cramping; I was probably just walking too fast I thought.  But, the cramping did not go away, even with a warm shower, and around 10:30 they stepped up in intensity.  At that point, I realized that I was in fact having contractions, and I started timing them.  They were intense, but sporadic, so I figured I had plenty of time before I might need to call Dallin home again.  The contractions lasted sometimes 10-15 seconds, sometimes 45 seconds; sometimes the contractions were 20 minutes apart, sometimes 5 minutes apart.  While I was still able, I packed my hospital bag.

By 11:15, I started to realize that this was indeed true labor, and things were progressing very rapidly.  My contractions had intensified again, and they were starting to come every 5 minutes, lasting for a full minute.  I called Dallin around 11:30 and told him to come home fast, it was time to get to the hospital.  As best as I was able, in between contractions, I also messaged my neigbor/friend/visiting teacher Jenn, and asked if we could drop off our kids around 12:30 when Dallin got home.  Thankfully, mercifully, and miraculously, she was home and available.  Her house is just five minutes from our house, and as it turned out, 5 minutes was all the more time we could spare.

I turned on a little show for the kids so I could have space and quiet time to process the contractions before Dallin got home.  When he came in the door around 12:20, I could hardly walk or talk.  We dropped off the kids at 12:30, and raced to the hospital.  Sometime in the 25-minute drive to the hospital, the contractions kicked up another notch, and they started coming at 2-minute intervals.  Dallin had a white knuckle drive over, and I started to wonder if we would make it in time.  As we pulled up to the curb at the hospital (around 12:55 pm), a nurse was wheeling a discharged patient to her car, he came over directly after unloading her and picked me up in his wheelchair.  I needed it!  I could barely take three steps before a new contraction started.  

I was wheeled up to a triage room and asked to dress into a hospital gown.  After I was changed, the triage nurse checked my cervix.  I was dilated to a very healthy seven, and in transition with contractions every 90 seconds, a few seconds of break, and then right into another one.  Quickly, I was wheeled to a delivery room.  And a mad scramble ensued: Call the midwife, bring in a baby warmer, set up her IV, attach the fetal monitor, etc.  The midwife walked in joking, "Just bloody show, huh?  This baby likes to be dramatic.  Let's meet this little guy!"  With seven or eight more contractions, and ten pushes, Jonathan made his fast, unexpected, beautiful arrival.  He was born at 1:17 pm.  Dallin cut the cord, and he was placed on my chest.  And, then, the four-hour wild ride slowed down, and I enjoyed that precious first snuggle time with my little baby boy .  There is nothing so sweet in all the world!  He is healthy, he is beautiful, he has arrived!  I am so grateful we had him in the hospital!              

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Almost


Here is a (highly unflattering) picture for the sake of history.  I am in my 9th month, about 10 days from my due date, and feeling about as tired as I look.  No other complaints aside from that, just so, so tired.  Every time I sit down to read children's books to my children, I fall asleep, usually half-way through the second book.  Honestly, practically every time I sit down anywhere slightly soft and comfortable I fall asleep.  I need a little nap every day, and for the most part, the kids are awesome at giving me an hour and entertaining themselves in safe, peaceful ways.  I am so grateful!

Earlier this week, two of my friends from the ward hosted a fantastic baby shower for me, and I came away with six boxes of diapers, three boxes of baby wipes, twenty new outfits, a few baby blankets, several darling stuffed animals, and a good supply of baby wash/lotion.  Today we set up the crib, washed a good chunk of 0-3 month clothes, and found all the essentials (car seat, burp cloths, baby towels, etc.)

I do not really have strong pregnancy food cravings, but I have had a fresh pineapple addiction lately.  Over the Christmas holiday pineapples went on sale two or three weeks in a row for just .88 cents a piece.  We often had three or four lined up on the counter at various stages of ripeness.  I can and did often eat an entire pineapple myself in one day.  Grapefruit and oranges have tasted amazing too, as of late.  Butter masala simmer sauce with roasted cauliflower over rice is a new favorite too; all the warm, rich spices taste like candy to me.

Ezra and Maren took a sibling preparation class at the hospital earlier in the month.  They often accompany me to doctor appointments and have heard the baby's heartbeat half a dozen times.  We read books about baby coming, and they like to feel my belly when baby has hiccups.  Anticipation is high for everyone, but as with the other two kids, my body hasn't decided to do anything yet, not even any Braxton Hicks contractions.  So, we are waiting.  Almost there, but not quite.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Power to Choose

This year in Primary the 2017 theme is simply, "Choose the Right."  The introductory song for the theme, the one that all Primary's in the church focus on in January is, "As a Child of God."

I love the words.  

Here is the simple message from the first verse:

I came to earth with power to choose.
Good choices bless me and my family too.
As a child of God, I receive special light:
The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.

I can't tell you how many times those beautiful, simple words have come up in family discussions this month.  Agency is one of my favorite gospel principles; it rings so true to me that we have the opportunity and responsibility to act for ourselves, and that all choices have consequences.

Last week Ezra, Maren, and I were leaving a friend's house, and right before we backed out of their driveway to head home, Ezra lashed out at his sister, and lost a privilege because of his poor choice.  As we drove home, Ezra was feeling remorse for the lost privilege, and lamented, "Mom, I just can't change.  Changing is too hard.  I can't do it.  I just keep making bad choices."  I wanted to jump for joy!  What a profound truth with a perfectly wonderful solution!  With the companionship of the Holy Ghost, I confidently declared my testimony of the sweet reality of change.  I sang those opening lines to Ezra, "I came to earth with power to choose..."  I shared with him the blessing of agency, a gift from Heavenly Father, and the redeeming power of the Atonement that allows for individual choice, and gives us opportunity to make amends and try again.  I encouraged him to include his righteous desires to change in his prayers.

A few days later at dinner, he said an unusually introspective prayer, as he prayed for help to love Maren, to be calm when things made him mad, and use his agency for good choices.  I was touched by his little boy humility.  Truly, the Holy Ghost does help us all to know what is right.  I'm so grateful.    

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Maren


Maren's new favorite article of clothing is the above dress, which she calls her "naked dress"; she likes it because it has "strap-es".  She wants to wear this or her swimsuit every day.  No pants, no shirts with sleeves, occasionally certain tights, and a shear poofy skirt, and nothing else.  When we have to go to preschool, she grudgingly changes to meet protocol for a winter climate.  As soon as we are home, she changes back to her naked dress again!  (I am not really excited about her clothing choice, but she is an emotional wreck if the dress is in the wash, so I don't fight her on it).

Recently, we were headed out to church, and she refused to wear a sweater or jacket of any type with her short sleeved dress.  It was cool, but not frigid.  "Mommy, I don't need it.  I just want to feel the sweet breeze."

Earlier this week we were at a friend's house, and the little girl pictured above came up from the basement in tears.  As soon as Maren recognized the crying as that of her friend Naomi, she ran down the stairs.  The two of them came upstairs soon thereafter.  Maren had one arm wrapped around Naomi, and the other arm patting her chest.  She carefully guided her friend to her mom, and then ran over to me.  Excitedly she announced, "Mommy, I'm practicing being a good big sister!  I'm a good big sister to Naomi!"

Maren adores the Fancy Nancy book series.  She wants to be fancy all the time, and will sometimes come to me crying if she can't find enough "fancy" things to add to her outfit: her princess shoes, a headband, a scarf, hair clips, etc.  I believe I have this endearing, fictitious children's book character to explain my child's fascination with immodest, weather-inappropriate clothing!

 As of last Sunday, Maren is a Sunbeam at church.  She transitioned beautifully.  Truly, it was a remarkable thing to behold.  No tears, no hand-holding, no qualms, no fears, just a confident, self-assured presence, and excitement for a new step.

Maren is giggly, fun-loving, and silly.  She likes to wear my glittery lip balm, and smelly-sweet lotions.  She is super girly, and loves everything pink, but is also perfectly content to play cars and dinosaurs with Ezra.

Ezra


Ezra created the above about a month or so ago; a darling sampling (some cut and pasted to be all on one page) of my Ezra-boy's obsession with marine biology.  I have to say, I am very impressed with his accurate, though stylized representations of some favorite water creatures.  My drawings sometimes feel forced; his are so natural and free.  I love it!

Earlier in the week I subdivided a large sheet of white paper into various geometric blocks and Ezra and I made simple Zentangle drawings together.  There was only one rule, every block needs a different type of pattern; he really got into it!  Yesterday, Ezra, Maren and I did watercolor paintings, and both kids sat and painted for more than an hour.  About a dozen pieces of paper later, they finally had their fill.

Last night we watched a NOVA documentary about the mysteries of math in the universe, and Ezra was truly entranced.  At the end he said it was better than expected, and really interesting.  He has the patience for building with little Legos, but also the patience to play dress-up, and kitchen with his sister.  He likes puzzles and brain teasers, and has been particularly enamored with an Aunt Molly Christmas gift, a game called Camelot Jr. that requires basic spatial logic skills.  

He just recently has discovered the joy of new friendship with several boys in his preschool class.  After school on Tuesday he reported that Joshua and Patrick thought his jokes and silly stories were funny.  "I think I make friends easily Mom.  My friends like my jokes."  Ezra has made huge strides in social development in the last year, which is extremely gratifying to see.  He has friends now; last year at this time he was scared/intimidated by of most of his peers.    

Friday, December 30, 2016

Grateful


Christmas is often filled with emotion, anxious anticipation, and joy.  This year my Christmas has also included more feelings of gratitude for the gift of life and health.  One of my good friends, someone I see regularly, usually weekly, lost her mother suddenly earlier this month.  She is still reeling that her mother, just 66-years old, is really gone.  A nine-year old boy in our ward with a rare genetic disease that causes slowed growth, digestive, heart, and respiratory problems had open heart surgery a week before Christmas.  His recovery has been slow.  Another friend in the ward, an older lady that I love, and have served with in Relief Society, had quadruple bypass surgery two days after Christmas, and is struggling to heal.  Another friend was anticipating the birth of her third son on January 5, but instead this seemingly perfectly healthy baby passed away in the womb on December 23.  Life is so fragile and unpredictable!

Sometimes there are unanswered questions.  Sometimes life feels very unfair.  But, I rejoice that in the midst of grief, loss, anxiety, and fear, there is the Light of the World.  I feel such gratitude for the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ that brought a new star, and hope everlasting.  In the sorrows of life, even at Christmas time, there is a Prince of Peace.

Although my experience is only second-hand, I feel grateful for my association with each of these people.  The gospel plan, the Father's will, and principles of faith, hope, and charity are made more alive in difficult times.  The combination of the Christmas season, and friends who are hurting have made my own covenants more meaningful.  I have found joy in offering needed service, praying more earnestly for specific people with specific needs, and have found myself thinking of others more.  I am grateful for healthy children, a loyal companion, and the support of family.  I am grateful for the tiny life inside me, and a pregnancy without complications.  I am grateful to be a mother.  I am grateful for gospel perspective.  I am grateful for opportunities to feel something of what Christ has felt.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Picnic in November

Yesterday, the high was 81 degrees, the low was 40.  We played outside for a good two hours, and had a picnic lunch in our shorts.  It was absolutely marvelous, though rather odd.  As of yesterday, we had had ZERO precipitation of any kind in October AND November.  The lack of moisture and string of perfect 70 degree days in the late fall has been glorious, though, certainly a little disconcerting.  We have been counting our blessings, and enjoying an unseasonably temperate autumn.  There has been much scooter and bike riding, park days, walks, hikes, and outside time that has all but made up for our rather bland summer (on account of my nausea).

For the record, yesterday, we looked like this:



Today, the high was 40 degrees and the low was 26 degrees.  The snow started at noon, and lasted all day.  There were sometimes 20-30 mph wind gusts that left us breathless.  A light snow cover now coats our flowers that were still blooming perfectly yesterday.  Moisture of any kind is most welcome!  I am grateful for the snow!  But, again, for the record, yesterday we had a picnic in the front yard in shorts.

Count Your Blessings


In an effort to curb a lot of exuberant Christmas "I want..." feelings, the kids and I found some 80% off fall decorations and had a family "I'm grateful for..." session.  It took a few minutes for the kids to catch the vision, but in short order they saw the fun in it and were fully engaged in counting their blessings on pumpkins.  Ezra was especially prolific.  And, he didn't want any help to think of blessings, or write them down.  I am impressed with his growing comprehension of letters and sounds.  He is not in kindergarten, and we are not doing a great deal of extra-curricular at-home lessons.  Here are some examples of his independent (motivated!) spelling efforts:

"Im grafl Grama Dens." (translation: I'm grateful for Grandma Denise)
"Im gratfl Gramu Rasln." (translation: I'm grateful for Grandma Roslyn)
"Im gratfr Prafit." (translation: I'm grateful for a Prophet)
"Im gratfr famle." (translation: I'm grateful for family."
"Im gratfr Gat." (translation: I'm grateful for God)
"Im gratfr Thgiven." (translation: I'm grateful for Thanksgiving.)
"Im gratfr Crismths."  (translation: I'm grateful for Christmas)


Miss Maren was also very engaged.  She very studiously filled her pumpkins with tiny chicken scratch markings, and then brought me each pumpkin and had me transcribe her efforts.  Her blessings, which were also all her original ideas, included such things as:

"I'm grateful for my heart blanket."
"I'm grateful for the color pink and purple."
"I'm grateful for toys."
"I'm grateful for my mom and my dad."
"I'm grateful for Kate and Coleman." (the neighbors on either side of us)
"I'm grateful for Mary (mother of Jesus)."
"I'm grateful for a good neighborhood."
"I'm grateful for our dirt."


This is us, counting our blessings.  It was a lovely way to spend an evening!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall Fun: Estes Park & Nederland


Fall is so beautiful in the mountains!  Earlier this month we took a drive up the canyon, enjoying the local visual delights of the season.  Our first stop, Estes Park, is home to a hearty population of elk that are somewhat accustomed to human visitors.  In a large central park, we carefully observed them--at close range!  Obviously, a male elk hierarchy exists in the herd.  We were entertained watching a large dominant male elk repeatedly drive off all other potential male suitors from his female group.



Panorama of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park beyond.

Next, we followed the Peak to Peak highway south to Nederland where we strolled through town, followed the Boulder Creek to a park, and then played on the "beach" of a reservoir.  The kids were immensely happy to be outdoors, free to frolic in natural mountain spaces.  I love that they are so easily entertained.  Ezra found a small sandbar and claimed it as his and Maren's personal island.  They used drift wood to build structures for their "town", and collected interesting pebbles for fences.  Barefoot in the mountains, playing in water--they couldn't have been happier.

Contentment.

Halloween 2016


Happy Halloween!  The much anticipated kid favorite holiday was a great success this year.  We had our annual church trunk-or-treat soup pot luck on Saturday night, and then we indulged in a little more candy tonight and went trick-or-treating to about ten houses near us, mostly neighbors we knew personally.

Maren knew two months ago she wanted to be a princess, either wearing pink or purple.  Rapunzel (from the movie Tangled) was the perfect fit: purple sparkly dress, long blonde hair, free spirit.  She was darling!  Ezra had a more difficult time deciding, but ultimately chose the lesser known Robin after reading a few Batman-Robin comic books from the library.  Something about this more gentle, loyal sidekick appealed to Ezra, and luckily we found a costume because he would be Robin and no one else.

I really enjoy dressing up for Halloween; it's a great excuse to be silly/creative and act like a kid again.  My pregnancy and growing belly gave me an opportunity to try something unique.  The internet had a few ideas, but Halloween or not, many of them were kind of grotesque; bloody plastic baby limbs and head protruding from a shirt is not my idea of cute.  After a little research, I decided to go as a prize winning pumpkin, and Dallin,who likes dressing up, but likes to keep it simple, went as the proud pumpkin-growing farmer.  A quick visit to Hobby Lobby and in one-hour of create time I painted a pumpkin face with puffy paint on a plain orange shirt, made a blue ribbon from blue cardstock, and used some stiff felt and pipe cleaners glued to a headband for the pumpkin hat.  Costume was created for about $11!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Baby # 3


Here is our cutie boy in his first photo, all relaxed and cozy.  Our new baby boy is due to arrive in early February 2017.  He is making his presence known with lots of kicks and wiggles, enough now that Maren and Ezra can feel him.  Both kids are at least slightly aware of what is about to happen because several friends and family members have recently been pregnant and now have newborns or young babies.  Maren has told me she intends to "help the baby learn to pee, help him put on his underwear, wash him in the bath, and hold him softly," among other things.

After making the birthday posts on Ezra and Maren, and processing their many strengths and differences, it is fascinating for me to consider how our next baby will be alike, and also altogether different than the other two.  What a miracle this new little person is; I am so thrilled to meet him!    

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Fun: Witch Scavenger Hunt

At the end of September we drove to Utah for a long General Conference weekend trip.  One of the highlights was family time/cousin time.  Aunt Sarah recommended an afternoon excursion to a darling little eclectic shopping district dressed up for the Halloween season.  We went in search of 25 hidden larger-than-life witches scattered around, above, and between all the shops.  Sarah and her kids, Aunt Molly, Grandma, and our family had a lovely afternoon together on the lookout for witches.  Each child earned a cookie from a bakery in the village for completing the scavenger hunt.  Fun times!

Maren (3 yrs.), Judd (2.5 yrs), Camryn (5.5. yrs), Ezra (5 yrs)
We love Aunt Molly! (one of the witches on top the pumpkin)
Aunt Sarah and our newest cousin, Lena, with Judd & Camryn
Five under five!  I love this picture; what a lucky grandma!
Our group (plus Dallin--photographer), wandering through the village

Fall Fun: Apple Orchard

Our state is certainly not known for apple orchards; in fact, I think there are less than a dozen in all of Colorado, and probably less than three in our local area.  But, we found a wee (historic) one not too far from home, and made a Saturday morning visit.

The big draw for Dallin and the kids were the apple cider doughnuts they advertised, and we were not disappointed--melt-in-your mouth apple-spice goodness!  We also sampled some of their homemade apple cider, meet the farm animals, and took a hay ride.  For a few dollars you could feed carrots to the horses, I did, and had my entire hand engulfed inside the mouth of a horse, which included a good deal of horse slobber.  He-he!  Cheap entertainment!!

Quintessential red doors on a historic, renovated barn
We said hello to their chickens, turkeys, and peacocks
Fed the Percheron draft horses.  Everything about them is huge.
Hay ride through the orchard, including many heirloom varieties

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ezra: 5 years

It is birthday season here, and Ezra recently turned five, so forgive me for another in-depth look at my sweetie boy.
  • Ezra is a thinker.  He is very much his father's son, and I can already see the engineer brain in him.  He loves reading books and learning new things.  He loves asking questions, and consulting the "ok Google" function on my phone.  He is a knowledge sponge; he has this insatiable need to know, and processes information with remarkable efficiency.  I can almost see the neat rows of boxes in his brain; I can imagine him filing away tidbits in carefully organized compartments for later recall.  Ezra also has a memory like a steel trap.  On a number of occasions he has said, "But Mom, don't you remember when..." and he will recall with great accuracy some random comment I made about this or that several months earlier.  Yea, that is my Ezra boy.  
  • Ezra loves the truth.  Almost as much as he needs to know facts, he needs to know the reality of things.  The classic example is our heart-to-heart conversation last Christmas--when he was just four--about the reality of Santa Claus.  He had some disconcertingly intelligent questions about his modus operandi, and came to the conclusion after examining the facts, that Santa Claus was in fact, not real.  Often when we read a book or watch a movie, he will ask, "Did that really happen?"  "Is that really true?"  He asked that question after watching the animated movie Anastasia recently.  In basic terms, we discussed the real story of the Romanov family, the Bolshevik police, the Russian Revolution, and Communism.  He was fascinated.
  • Ezra is confident in his interests.  At his five-year well check, the pediatrician asked him a number of questions.  Among them she asked, "Do you have friends at school?"  He immediately responded, "No I don't need friends, I like to do what I like by myself."  She was quite surprised, and said that most children at this age crave friends, and assume that everyone likes them.  Nearly all his school peers and church associates are enamored with super heroes and sports; Ezra hardly gives those genres a second glance.  He is the budding scientist, and continues to be fascinated with all things animal.  One of his favorite pastimes is studying the animal encyclopedia.  
  • Ezra has serious focus.  Ezra can sit for an hour or more engrossed in a stack of books.  He will studiously fill whole notebooks of letters and drawings in a day.  And, when he is in the mood, he is neat, tidy, and organized; his bed and box of things is a favorite area to fix up and set right.  Today, for example, he filled a pint Mason jar with numbers written on miniature sticky notes.  He explained that the numbers represented money saved for the temple in China.  He was saving it up to give to the bishop so China could have its own temple, "And a church building too," he added, if there was enough left over.
  • Ezra struggles with new or challenging tasks.  Ezra tends to shut down when things get too hard.  He has done that since he was a baby.  I think it is a control issue.  He likes to feel confident, and capable, and anything new or challenging tends to unravel him.  He is not driven by competition.  He will not dive into a new activity if he senses it is not safe or doable.  He is not a dare devil.  Better safe than sorry is how he likes to operate.  Maren tends to try new things before him.    
  • Ezra is growing into the big brother role.  Recently, I saw a touching example of Ezra being the protecting older brother.  We went to a park, Ezra and Maren were having a lovely time playing together, and then two boys maybe seven and four showed up, and proceeded to claim all park property as their own, refuse access to various play structures, and yell, chase, and generally bully Ezra and Maren.  I was impressed with Ezra's calm reasoning.  From a distance I could hear him addressing the boys, "I think playing together is more fun than fighting.  I choose to walk away," and then he carefully led Maren away, who was cradled under his arm.  At another tense moment, Ezra rescued Maren and hugged her tightly, and said, "This is my best sister, and you can't scare her."  Yesterday while I was in the shower, Ezra took initiative and cleared the breakfast dishes, wiped the table, tidied the living room, and stacked all the library books.  Later, he gave me a little tour of his work, and said matter-of-factly, "Mommy, you can't do all the jobs anymore, I need to do them.  You have a big belly."  Cute boy!               
    His b'day request: pumpkin muffins with whipped cream & chocolate bunnies 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Maren: 3 years old

Maren turned three in August, and her birthday is a great time to record some thoughts about her.
  • Maren loves to ride.  Maren got a three-wheeled scooter from her Grandma Denise as an early birthday present.  She loves her scooter like Ezra loves his bear, and that is really saying something.  Maren is off like a shot on her scooter as soon as the garage door opens.  She is her very happiest on her scooter.  Truly, the best part of her day is scooter riding.  She has absolutely no fear, flying here, there, and everywhere at lightening speed.  Maren has mastered the hip lean in order to turn, and looks like a real pro at parks.  She really turns heads: wavy blonde hair flying, princess helmet, often a big poofy skirt, pink clogs, and an Olympic smile as she whizzes up ramps, and through people, around obstacles, and back again to where I watch.  Again, and again she make loops, and comes back to me just long enough to say, "Mommy, this is the best fun ever!"  I love that she has found a true love, and can feel so free and happy in an activity.  Thank you Grandma!
  • Maren is feisty.  It is her personality.  She is no push-over, and she doesn't have a passive, or even passive-aggressive response to anything.  If she has been slighted, she will make it known.  It is just a matter of course that my three-year old yells at me quite a bit in the course of a day.  I pick my battles carefully, because she is a fighter.    
  • Maren is emotions-focused.  When Ezra and Maren get into a skiff, no matter the type of insult from her brother (pinch, push, bite, kick, mean words, stolen toy, etc.), Maren comes running with great sobs (because she is also quite theatrical), and exclaims, almost without exception, "Ezra hurt my feelings!"  I find this rather fascinating.  She has been using this expression for a good three months.  There may be pain involved, but it is always a feelings issue with her.  Her feelings have been damaged, and her emotional psyche is wounded.  I am intrigued that she has made that connection, and needs balm for injured feelings.  Ezra, as verbally adept as he is, just doesn't communicate about emotional injury.
  • Maren is kind of dreamy, and lost-in-a cloud sometimes.  Schedule?  Time constraint?  Follow-through?  What?  Maren Marie, darling, darling girl that she is, has a really hard time with task completion.  "Maren, find your shoes," for example, can be a 20-minute endeavor because she forgets and/or gets distracted by more enticing activities.  Unless the task is directly related to going on a scooter ride, she has little motivation for things like "find clothes", "brush teeth", "clean room", etc.  Lately, her favorite things are princesses and ballerinas, and at times she spends hours doing mostly nothing with her princess things and singing to herself, very much absorbed in her own little world.                   
  • Maren is very compassionate and tender.  Nearly every time I threw up during this current pregnancy, if Maren was in ear-shot, she would come running, rub my back, and bring me tissues.  "It's ok mommy, it's ok mommy," she would repeat again and again, staying with me until it was over.  At other random moments, at least once at day, Maren will come running and squeeze me in a tight hug and say with real conviction, "You're my best mommy ever!!"  Or "I just love you, you're my sweetie-heart."  
  • Maren is strong.  Recently, at Ezra and Maren's well-child exams for their birthdays, they both needed a shot.  Ezra declared bravely, "I'll go first."  But, as soon as the needle came into view, however, he dissolved into violent sobs, and pleaded not to have to undergo such torture.  The nurse proceeded, Ezra howled and ranted.  Ezra was shaky, teary, and clingy for the next 30 minutes.  Maren, who was in the room to witness what her brother had just undergone, watched silently.  When it was her turn, she sat on my lap, squeezed my hand, and didn't make a peep.  Needle went in, not a whimper, not even a flinch.  In fact, the nurse paused, looked, and blinked mid-syringe in surprise.  Bandage was applied, and Maren, calm as ever, hopped off my lap, as if nothing whatsoever had happened, and then comforted Ezra in his pain.  She often gets up from scooter crashes without a sound and goes again.  When she does fall and skin a knee, she needs a kiss, a smile, a little squeeze, and then she is back to riding.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Well hello there...

After a three-month hiatus, I am getting back to the blogging.

My hiatus is due to a happy reason: I am pregnant with baby # 3 (!!!), which brings unhappy consequences on my normal life: nasty pregnancy nausea.  The good news is, at 18 weeks, I am feeling mostly normal, with the continued help of my nausea medication.

The saving grace of the summer was two awesome family reunions.  If it had not been for those two events, and a brief road-trip to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, my family would have endured the most uneventful, lethargic summer of their lives.  (I was a blob in fetal position for three months, throwing up 3-4 times/day.)  As of about a week and a half ago, I started cooking dinner again, and eating it too!

So, without further ado, here are the highlights of our summer (it really was fantastic, all things considered!):

Family hike in Boulder--one of our most successful, and so beautiful.
Lazy afternoon in Jackson.  Met the locals.
The epitome of summer: homemade ice cream in Jackson park.

Awesome family photo with super awesome Tetons backdrop.
The children were amazing road-trippers!  Hip-hip-hooray!
Plenty of time to enjoy Grandma's new outdoor paradise.
Easy, shady waterfall hike in Utah, so nice!
Camping in Grandma's front yard!
Canyon hike with cousins, and Jared & Sarah (8+ mos. pregnant!)
Fun cousin time with Camryn and Judd.
The best possible cousin hangout: Grandma's Roslyn's hot tub.
Fourth of July: a perfectly wonderful 8 am-10 pm marathon day.
Water park day with cousins--super fun!
Water slide with mom, giggle, repeat!
Dallin was concertmaster at this beautiful outdoor venue...
...and the children frolicked in the grass
We went to the Fort Collins Temple open house as a family--twice!