Thursday, December 16, 2010

a day to remember

Today was such a good day I just had to write about it.

I got ready before Sam left for work (the day goes so much better when I do that and I've been making an effort to do it), fed Levi, read my scriptures, and then got the kids dressed.

Anna ate breakfast while Levi napped and I prepped things for the day: making lunch, gathering packages to be sent and items to lend, packing cookies for visiting teaching, printing maps of where we were going. After breakfast Anna told me she needed to go potty and I left her sitting there with some books. She waddled out with her pants around her ankles and said, "I did it!!" And there was pee and poo in the potty. So she earned a candy. And with a little extra time I quickly googled a craft idea and made a painting with Anna to send to my parents with their Christmas gift. And best of all, she loved it and talked about it for the rest of the day.

Then, we were off. First, to playgroup, where Anna got to play with friends and I nursed and fed Levi. All the little girls took turns spooning mashed peas into Levi's mouth and they all loved it. Another mom complimented my kids on their cuteness and politeness.

Anna and I ate lunch in the car and then we drove to our first visiting teaching appointment. I got completely lost, but my wonderful husband spent his lunch break getting me to where I needed to go. While visiting teaching we got to talk about how wonderful the Christmas season is for seeing our children's testimonies of the Savior grow. Anna knew all the people in the nativity and told all about the gifts she's making for others. Levi, bless him, slept the whole appointment. Again, we left with my friend telling me how sweet my children were.

By this point it was nap time for Anna, and time to eat and have a diaper change for Levi, but we went to the store to pick out Christmas presents anyway, which of course took longer than expected since there were more options of some items than I expected and fewer of others. Still, Levi was quiet and Anna played with whatever she could reach on the shelf.

It was a quiet ride home while Anna sucked her thumb but every once in a while she'd burst into song with the primary songs that were playing. I can not describe how much I love her little voice singing, "He KNOWS I will follow Him, give all my life to Him. I feel my Saviors love, the love He freely gives me."

We got home and found a package from my mom waiting for us. Anna, begging to get into bed, fell asleep immediately. I fed Levi and then he played happily while I unwrapped the package. Inside was my Grandma Fawnie's Christmas table runner, ornaments from her tree, and presents for the kids. And at the very bottom were baggies of homemade Andes-ish mints and toffee. I nearly cried. My kids had been so wonderful being dragged around and then I got this taste of home of my dear mother and grandmother and the joy of family and Christmas just wrapped me up.

But, a short hour later, I had the kids back in the car to go to another visiting teaching appointment. We met this friend in her classroom where she's a 6th grade teacher. She had it filled with globes and books and flags and fun projects her class was doing. I could just feel the excitement for learning in her classroom. We talked and laughed and found Boston (where we live) and Tahiti (where Uncle Seth lives) on all the globes. She let Anna pick some prizes from her treasure chest-- pens and a notebook shaped like a purse. Anna nearly had a fit trying to get them open, but I asked her if I could help and all was well. My friend said, "That was amazing! I didn't learn how to do that till my kids were 10!" Again, I felt so grateful for my wonderful parents (and Sam's wonderful parents) who taught us well so that we can be on our way to being good parents. We shared our thoughts about the temple and what we can offer the Lord and marveled at the gifts and grace He gives us. And then she told me how well-behaved my children were and she was glad to see they weren't indulged.

Riding the high of Anna's good behavior, we drove to the library (it was now dinner time) where I had intended to feed Levi, but, bless him even more, he had fallen asleep. I found a book I'd been wanting to read and Anna read some picture books to the baby dolls and teddy bears. I called Sam who was just arriving home and told him to meet me at McDonalds.

Anna and I stopped in the post office where she pushed all the buttons on the package mailing machine and charmed the other mom and daughter waiting behind us in the lobby.

Then, off to McDonalds for a 7PM dinner where Anna was literally bouncing in her seat and nearly shouting with excitement over "chicken nuggets and chocolate milk with DADDY at OLD MCDONALDS!!!!!" So easy to make her happy after such a long day. I told her over and over how proud I was that she had been such a good and patient girl all day.

We came home and had baths and Anna didn't fight brushing her teeth. We sang songs and Anna recited to Daddy the 8th Article of Faith and then were hugs and kisses and Anna singing Mary's Lullabye into her microphone/flashlight. Levi snuggled and giggled and nursed to sleep all cozy and clean and pink and fleecy.

My heart is just bursting with love and joy in my family. I feel so rewarded today for all the hard days and hard work that have come before. It was a day engaged in good causes and I felt peace in that despite all the driving and going. I needed to write down this day so that on all those other days I can come back and read this and be reminded of what we're working for.

Merry Christmas! I hope you get a day filled with as much joy and love and peace this season as this one was.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

we really did have a party

The kids are napping, exhausted from the super fun cookie decorating party we just had at our house. It was so much fun, in fact, that I completely forgot to take any pictures.

I'm kicking myself over that one, but it's pretty easy to imagine four wide-eyed 2-year-olds (and one big sister) slathering their cookies with frosting and dumping toppings on willy nilly.

Anna helped me cut out all the cookies yesterday. She was so patient to wait till all her little friends arrived to start decorating (and eating!) her cookies. She was still sitting at the table frosting and dumping and picking at things long after everyone else was done. Finally, she fell out of her chair and I made her go play with the other kids instead of frosting some more.

We have at least two dozen extra cookies which are going to the Littleton Community Supper tonight.

All in all, I count it as a success.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

i made these

While my mom was here, I asked her to help me make a little outfit for Anna. Mom made the leggings (which unfortunately shrunk in the wash, so they're now capris) and then she walked me through making the shirt. I finally finished it last week.

I made this gorgeous hair too. What a wonderful genetic coincidence to get such beautiful hair.

And finally, my little bear cub. Every day I'm grateful we made his little growl-y self.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Anna has a new favorite adjective. It is splooky. This is the latest in a long string of made up words and mispronunciations like, kerrible (rhymes with terrible), boobiebobbie, yeshi, peetypete, tumma (meaning tummy), etc. They are her go-to words when she needs a word but doesn't know the right one.

We've always enjoyed her nonsense words and trying to divine their meaning, but we've really embraced splooky. It's fun to say, can mean anything, and is often used onomatopoeically. Here are a few things Anna has described as splooky:
  • Levi's spit up
  • Food on her hands
  • Water used for painting with water colors
  • How her stomach feels
  • Being slippery and soapy in the bath
  • When she can't do something (like do a button, or put a difficult toy together)
  • Dirty diapers
  • Pebbles at the shore of Walden Pond
It's so much fun to have a peek into that little creative brain of hers. She's feeling better from a week-long, whine-inducing illness and was all sunshine and singing and hugs and helpfulness today. We just laughed ourselves silly the whole day and it made me glad to be a mom, even during the splooky times.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

i never thought it would start this young

Anna is into cosmetics. Here are some of her favorite products:


Nail polish

dip the brush

wipe off the extra

and apply

the final product

Anna even did my nails


I love this face. If you want to know Anna's personality, it's right there.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

happy halloween

Our fun started on Thursday night with a party at our apartment complex. We had a pizza dinner with cider and fruit and veggies. Anna loved seeing all the other kids in costumes and was most excited about a little firefighter. We tried to stay for the BINGO game, but Anna didn't really get it and it was too noisy for Levi, so we left. Anna could not believe that she actually got to take candy home in her pumpkin bag! What a great holiday!

(A HUGE thank you to Anna Jo and Jeff for Anna's costume this year! They sent us the costume over 2.5 years ago when they found out we were having a girl and this is the first Halloween it has fit Anna. She LOVED it and put it on several times at home just to admire her cute self in it.)

The excitement was impossible to contain

After getting a little taste of Halloween fun, Anna was all geared up for our church Halloween party on Saturday night and kept talking about how she'd get to wear her costume and get more candy.

Anna's cousin Isabelle sent a little Halloween package with some treats and a craft foam jack-o-lantern to make, so on Saturday morning, we did that and Anna was screaming with excitement after lunch when she got to eat her Halloween fruit snacks (Thanks Belle!)

After lunch we went to the pumpkin patch down the road and picked out some pumpkins. Anna was a little surprised to find that all the pumpkins had dirt on them, so I was glad we got to show her how pumpkins grow on vines on the ground before she gets weird ideas that the magically show up at the grocery store in October.

We came home and gutted one little pumpkin. Anna enjoyed scooping out seeds and guts that I had pulled away from the sides, which I was pleased with. Sometimes I worry she's too sissy about getting dirty, so I'm pleased when she digs into a project like this. After the pumpkin was clean we showed her a few faces we could do but she wasn't really into it. Then Sam suggested we carve BOO ("Like on your bum!"-- see the pictures above) and she loved that idea. She colored while we quickly carved and then we went into a dark room to light a candle in the jack o lantern. She was amazed. There's nothing more fun than seeing kids delight in holiday traditions that are brand new to them.

While the kids napped, I made dinner in a pumpkin for our ward trunk-or-treat, and then we got the kids up to get them dressed so we could go finish setting up at the church. The whole evening went pretty well and Anna had a marvelous time trick or treating at all the cars. Her favorite was a car decked out in Christmas lights with Christmas trees and carols and stockings. She touched every single little colored light. I can't wait for Christmas decorating now! She'll love it!

Post Trunk or Treat pics

Sam tried to moderate Anna's candy consumption while I helped clean up after the activity and then we all went home, exhausted. Anna has been enjoying her halloween candy by sucking on the hard stuff for about 10 seconds before forgetting about it. I then sneak it into the trash. I think it's a good arrangement :)

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

pumpkin fest 2010

Not long after we moved here, we got a pass to the Discovery Museums, and are so happy we did. It has quickly paid for itself and also gives us lots of opportunities for creative fun. Take the pumpkin fest they held last weekend:

Anna is really into art these days and spends most of her play time coloring, painting, or playing with playdoh (when she's not reading). She was the very last kid to leave the pumpkin painting station and even then, she only stopped because we told the museum workers to go ahead and take the paints and glitter away. She was soon appeased by the face painting where she chose a black cat and a spider.

Once we went inside to warm up, Sam took Anna all around, but he said they spent most of their time in the play diner. Sam says Anna looks just like me when she cooks-- wearing an apron, opening the oven, moving around pots and pans, turning on the burners, and pushing away little hands that interfere :) (I do let Anna cook with me and try to give her something to do at dinner each day, but I'm still too particular to sacrifice my dinner for the sake of letting her experiment...) Meanwhile, Levi enjoyed himself thoroughly in front of the mirrors.

Next we played with some floating pumpkins and felt their gooey insides. And then we explored the science portion of the museum. Sam said, "Why do we always hang out in that other one? This one is way more interesting." So interesting, in fact, that he kept wandering off to the next exhibit without Anna :) Don't worry. We always found each other, and Anna nearly threw a fit when it was time to leave.

We snagged these pictures with all the big pumpkins first, though.

Happy Halloween from our little pumpkins!

Thank you Grandma Ruth for the super cute Halloween clothes! I could not stop admiring Levi's adorable chubby stripey legs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grandpa Roly

Can't say much today. I will in a few weeks. Thankfully, Karen's good at being eloquent at times like this.
I'll just echo her part about Grandpa loving unconditionally. I have never known a more loving or gentle person. When I saw him today, the memories that came flooding back were of his love for his wife, for me, my husband, and my children.

Monday, October 18, 2010

my college education in a nutshell

I always enjoy reading about psychology or sociology in the news. Makes me feel like maybe I didn't squander a free college education by getting a social science degree.

It also brings back wonderful memories of sitting in a pink classroom in London with a dozen or so other fantastic people discussing these issues with Renata Forste-- the most down-to-earth professor/mentor/friend I've ever had.

Excuse me while I continue day dreaming.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

final installment

I'm almost done with my no sweets month! You can read how it went here at

Any suggestions as to what I should make on Sunday night for dessert? What would you eat if you hadn't had any (or many) sweets for a month?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

i have been bested... really good ice cream. Week 3 of my guest posting at is here. If you need motivation for anything this post is for you.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

laughing levi, singing anna

Levi loves to laugh. He laughs for anyone, which makes them feel special, which makes me feel special for having such a wonderful baby. And Anna is just so stinkin' cute with those bouncy blonde curls and smart as a whistle. Between the two of them, strangers are always giving me benevolent smiles.*

Levi can sit really well now. and loves to sit and grab at toys, especially if Anna is around. Those two just love to giggle and gab with each other. Anna is pretty good about making sure Levi always has something to play with, even if she decides she wants the toy he currently has.

When Anna wakes up in the morning, she always wants to go say good morning to Levi. She's starting to want to pick him up and carry him, which scares me. I guess I have to be super diligent about keeping Levi on the floor and never sitting him on the couch or bed since I know she couldn't actually pick him up (he weighed in at 18 lbs 14 oz at his 6 month check up this week) but she could certainly drag him to the ground. Still, I love that they're so enamored with each other since I know it won't always be this way.

Levi is still just a joy to be around and is starting to babble all the time. He has these deliciously adorable squeals that make me laugh every time I hear them. He loves to jump in his exersaucer or doorway jumper and I can tell he's aching to crawl.

Anna sings all the time. We rotate through all the primary songbook CD's and when Anna hears a song she knows she sings along, no matter how many of the words she misses. I love it. And often, she wants to hear the same song over and over and over until she can get it all right while she sings along. I think we listed to Once There Was a Snowman about 150 times last week (which has a slide whistle at the end that sounds like a police siren...not good in the car). I can't get enough of her little voice.

I love my kiddos. Here's a video of Levi laughing for 3 1/2 minutes straight. Enjoy.

*Except, of course, when the kids are screaming...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

still going strong-ish

This is my mantra lately: "I'm doing this for the thrush."

Read week 2 of my sugar-fast at the Mother Runner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

sugar fast

I'm doing a little sugar fast for a month and blogging about it at The Mother Runner. Come check it out.... and leave a comment if you want to boost my self-esteem a bit. It's been a bit of rough day.

I'll just say this here. I'm on day 3 of this sugar fast and also on day 3 of Anna whining/crying/screaming all day long. If ever a woman needed chocolate, it would be today, and I couldn't eat it. Talk about frustrating.

Monday, September 20, 2010

smarty pants

The other day, Sam was reading an article about potential 2012 presidential candidates for the Republican Party. Anna came in from the porch, looked at the screen and said, "Party. P-A-R-T-Y" and continued playing.

Apparently, she's learning how to read.

Later that day, however, I got her to eat an entire piece of lunch meat (she goes on hunger strikes when she get's a cold...) by letting her hold a chocolate chip cookie in between bites. She never once actually took a bite of the cookie.

So let's not jump to any conclusions about her cleverness just yet.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a mother who's starting to know

A confluence of thoughts and experiences led me to blogging today:

Last week I read that 500 women were raped in Congo in July and August by both rebel militias and government troops and cried whenever I thought about it for the rest of the day.

I've been thinking and praying about how to have more patience with Anna and how to say yes more and no less.

My mom shared what was said at an area conference about mothers being online and/or working while at home.

I read King Benjamin's address about teaching our children.

I listened to an interview with Julie Beck and her daughters on the Mormon Channel while I folded laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and got dinner started.

With all this stewing in my mind, I've been really analyzing how I spend my time. Do Anna and Levi have my attention while they're awake? When am I crossing over from relaxing down-time to brain-draining wasting time? Am I productive with the time I'm online? Are my priorities right? Are household matters getting attention before my personal entertainment? Am I pulling my weight in our marriage and parenting duties?

I used to devote quite a bit of time to reading the news. But on that day that I read about the rapes in Congo, I thought, "What good is this doing? What on earth can I do for those women, for that country?" I said many prayers for the Congo that day, but it was truly draining to feel the weight of those wrongs all day and feel helpless to do anything about it. There are others who can act. World leaders, church leaders-- it's their job to know about these things and decide how to act, and what aid can be given.

But my job is to provide a peaceful and happy home for my family. And to do that, I need will and energy. When I spend to much time online (reading the news or otherwise), reading magazines, shopping, or watching TV, I can feel that energy being suck away by the world, into its problems and injustices, into self-doubt, into wanting what I don't need, into thinking I need to do or be more than I am.

So more and more I am exercising my will and closing my browser. In the time I used to spend on the news or blogs, I do family search indexing. All the parenting magazines get a quick browse for helpful articles (like one I recently found with FABULOUS ideas for teaching toddlers about all sorts of things) and then get tossed in the recycle bin. I've unsubscribed from about a dozen email lists.

I can tell things are getting better. I am saying yes more often. Anna's happier, I'm happier. I create more, sew more, cook more, and have more fun doing it. Anna's more polite and helping with chores and becoming amazingly creative.

We're no where near ideal yet. I still slip into vegetation and have plenty of bad habits yet to be tamed and broken. But it feels so good to know I'm on the right track.

Julie Beck said, "Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power."

I feel the power and I'm starting to know.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

let's go running

I'm running a 5K on October 2nd. I thought it might motivate me to start up a regular exercise routine, which it (mostly) has. And I'm loving running through Acton Town Forest and around Nara Park.

This is not me, obviously, nor is it in Acton. But it is a runner, and it is in Groton, which is very near Acton and this provides an accurate visual aid for showing you the beautiful scenery I get to experience on my runs.

My mothering/running/fitness-blogging friend Lizzie is joining me in spirit and will be running near her home in Brooklyn. She's encouraging the rest of us (or the rest of YOU, rather) to jump on the running in October bandwagon. Or walking in October. I truly believe almost anyone can finish a 5K with little to no training, and with a month to prepare, you can do even better. So what do you say? Are you with me?

Does it ever seem like all I do is post about all my friends' good ideas? Maybe because I do. I feel much more comfortable as a cheerleader and loyal supporter than instigator.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Jesus loves Anna

My friend Jocelyn is kicking off 30 days of blogging about The Family: A Proclamation to the World today. She's invited anyone to join her, and after reading today's post, it got me thinking about how I'm teaching my family these old-fashioned (ancient, honored, time-tested) ideas.

On Monday, for Family Home Evening, we finished up learning all the verses of Book of Mormon Stories.* The last verse is about Jesus Christ visiting the Americas and how He blessed all the little children there.

We all went into a dark room and I told Anna about how it was dark and scary, but then the people saw a light descending from the sky. And when I turned on the light, I had a picture of Jesus. I then showed her a picture of Jesus blessing the little children. I said, "Jesus loves little children like you."

Anna then said, "Jesus loves Anna. Jesus loves Mommy. Jesus loves Daddy. Jesus loves Levi." And now when I turn on a light in a dark room, she says, "Jesus brings light!" I am so glad my daughter knows Jesus loves her and will be a light in dark places.

In the Proclamation it says, "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny." My daughter knows this.

*Thanks to Rachel Frame for planning out dozens of FHE ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. If you know Rachel, you've got to ask her for her ideas for kids. They're perfect.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

canobie lake park

The weekend after we moved here, Sam's work had an employee day at a small local amusement park called Canobie Lake Park. It only cost $20 for all 4 of us to go and included a surprisingly good lunch of burgers, bbq chicken, corn, watermelon, and ice cream. Anna, however, didn't eat anything because she could see the big swings that spin around in a circle and was mesmerized.

So, once Sam and I ate, we headed off. It took a lot of convincing to get Anna to wait in line for the first ride, the sky coaster, but she loved to see the "yeshi" (her all purpose word for when she doesn't know the name of something), or Star Blaster ride that shot people up in the air on a tall tower. A month later, Anna will still say, out of the blue, "It was fun to see the star blaster!!!!"

Once on the ride, Anna loved it, though Sam said his stomach was in knots as Anna wanted to sit on the very edge of the bench and would push away Sam's hands whenever he tried to hold on to her. (A note about the pictures: of course Anna fell and scraped her face on the way home from the pool the morning of this little trip when I had intended to take a lot of pictures)

After all of us rode on the antique cars, we discovered the little kid rides. Anna seemed a little wary at first, but once she saw she could ride in a boat, she was convinced. It took her a while to warm up. All the other kids were turning the steering wheels and ringing the bells on the boats, but Anna mostly just sat there with her thumb in her mouth and only gave half-hearted waves after hearing us say, "Wave hi, Anna!!!" as enthusiastically as possible. Still, she loved it, and rode every single ride in that section of the park. We loved it at first, too and flashed tons of pictures, but Sam and I soon got bored and I think even Anna got a little jaded after a while once she realized that every single ride was the same (sit in a boat/jeep/bus/plane/horse and ride in a circle). Here are some of the better pictures and some video.

If you open this picture larger, you'll see that if you push and pull the bar you go up and down. I wouldn't say Anna got the hang of it, but she did manage to move herself around more than some older kids whose helicopters just sat on the ground the whole ride.

Once she got tired of it, she and I rode the train around the park and then Sam got in line behind a guy from work to get on a mini-rollercoaster. I was so excited for Anna to ride it, but the line was taking forever, so I had her ride the mini-swings. She begged to go on them again, but I thought Sam was getting close to the front of the line. We went to check, but there was still time, so I took her on the kids version of the star blaster called the Froggy Jumper. Anna laughed and laughed the whole time as it bounced up and down.

Finally, Sam was close to the front, so I sent Anna up to stand with him. Right before it was their turn to get on, she hit her head on one of the rails and went nuts. Sam tried to console her, but there was no way she was getting on that little dragon ride, so we brought her down and headed for the exit. She was hot and tired and hungry, so we gave her water and crackers and she watched the boat ride go back and forth while I fed Levi. Every time the people on the ride would scream, Anna would go, "Woooaaah!" too. It was very cute.

On the way out, when she was feeling better, we passed a little log ride that I thought she should ride. It turned out to be the most boring ride on earth as the logs followed a path of barely moving water at about 1/2 a mile an hour. All the dads in line kept sarcastically telling their kids not to be frightened and mocking the ride in any way they could, and Anna was certainly confused on the point of her sitting on the log, but it appeased my desire for her to go on one more ride, so I'm glad we did it.

This is what Levi looked like when he wasn't sleeping.

It's certainly no Cedar Point, and definitely not worth the $30 per person regular admission fee, but it was the perfect outing for our little family. I also have to admit that Sam and I were pretty proud of Anna for being a little daredevil for trying and loving every ride. We're looking forward to next year's trip.