Sunday, November 30, 2014

my hero says

(While motioning to Chas and I): "Come here, boy. Come here, little girl."

(As we're walking through the church parking lot): "I love you, cars!"

"I'm a frog! See my tail, mom?" (And then turns around and shakes her bum a little.)

(During my parent's birthday dinner, my dad held her in his arms and tipped her on her back so her head was lying in my mom's lap and she was looking up at my mom): "Happy birthday!...Backwards!"

As we're walking up the stairs from the basement, she decided to give every. single. step two kisses.

(While Chas was holding her in his arms before laying her down to bed): "All done. I have a little snooze now, Daddy."

"I'm a lobster!"

(As Chas is walking out of her room after putting her down for the night): "You're the best boy daddy in the whole world. I love you."

(During dinner): "So. How are you doing, mom?"

(While Chas was hugging her): "I love you SO much! Squeeze me tight, too."

"Once upon a time there was a little girl named Hero. And Hero went to a parking lot. The end."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

being better

Now that I've been blogging again consistently for the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about documenting my children's lives in more meaningful ways and why that's important to me.

I think it's easy as a woman and a mother to become bogged down in thinking we have to do everything for our children and do it all really well. But what mother is capable of doing everything well? I do a good job of keeping our house clean and tidy, the dishes done, and the laundry washed. I really try to TALK lots and lots to my girls- and not like I'm talking to babies. I like talking to them like I'd talk to a friend- in a normal-pitched voice and with the expectation that they can understand me on some level. I also feel like I make an effort to listen to and validate the thoughts, worries, and experiences they have. I read lots and lots to them and always want them to know that I'm genuinely proud of them and crazy in love with them no matter what.

But there's also plenty I need to work on improving. I've never been good at having dinner prepared every night when Chas gets home. In fact, he was the one who made us pizza tonight- which isn't an unusual occurrence. He also does the majority of the grocery shopping.

*cough cough...Moving on.*

The point is I'm great at some things and not so great at other things- just like every other mama out there. I know the areas I could improve and I'm trying to take baby steps towards being better. Most importantly, I'm not beating myself up over those things I don't excel at. It doesn't ever feel good to tell yourself that you're a dummy who can't do anything right. So I don't. Instead, I pat myself on the back for all the things I am doing great at.

Here comes the part where I actually try to DO something a little better than I have been doing.

I have access to a nice camera AND know how to use it AND glean immense joy and satisfaction in making photographs. Instead of grabbing my iPhone to capture all those small, sweet moments that only I have the privilege of witnessing day in and day out as a mother, I'm using my "real" DSLR camera. I decided that my children deserve to benefit from my talents and they deserve to have their childhood documented better than I've been doing up until this point. And, what's more, taking the time to capture these images fills my heart with so much gratitude for the chance I have to be a stay-at-home mama. So really, everyone wins.

To anyone who's reading this, I hope you can feel inspired to really see your talents with eyes open wide and find a small way to allow your own family and children to benefit more fully from the beautiful gifts you've been blessed with as a woman and mother.

Monday, November 24, 2014

conversations with my hero [episode 1]

I remember seeing this series done by James of Bleubird with her then 2 year-old daughter, Birdie. I loved it and knew right away I'd want to do something similar with my kids at that age.

So here we are. 

I've already watched this only like 67 times. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

it's been a really good day

This kid is something special, I tell ya. Everywhere we go, she's like a one-man show. People just naturally gravitate towards her and automatically love her. And why wouldn't you? I mean, those glasses? Forget about it. Total heart-breaker. My own little cartoon character.

Her personality oozes fun and love and sweetness- particularly at this age, too. While cuddled up and reading books together today, we took a little break for selfies. She giggled almost the whole time and her kissing me on the cheek was 100% her idea. Totally just went for it on her own.

She's the best little helper, too. Super obedient: "Sure, Mom!" I've never seen her throw a huge tantrum and when she is upset, it doesn't last long. She lets me snug her super close in bed in the mornings and we dance together in the kitchen while I'm making dinner. She's pure magic.

This may all sound like I'm an annoying mother bragging about her perfect child. Well, maybe I am.
(Ok, ok, she's obviously not perfect but honestly, she's pretty dang close.)

...In other news- Goldie slept for a 6-hour stretch and then an 8-hour stretch last night AND took a 4-hour nap! She woke up happy, and bright-eyed, and smiley. I felt so proud of her. I just love getting to know and love her more and more everyday as our relationship grows. She is such a light in our family and the best addition I could imagine.

Sometimes I wonder if these girls are my amazing reward for having survived so many really hard experiences early on in life. I'd go through all that crap again ten times over if it meant I could be with Hero and Goldie and Chas forever. They are more than worth it.

my hero says

(Pulls me by the hand out of her room): "Come here, mom! I'll show you! It's a fun party...a fun party for YOU!...(Takes me into the entry way. Stops. Looks around and gasps.): "Where's the party!? I lost it!"

(In her angriest voice): "No listen a me!!"

(When I asked her if she wanted me to take her coat off): "Yeah. I can't be myself."

(Skipping around the house, randomly shouting): "Let's go team!"

(While in the library): "I can't wait!!! So excited!!!" (She LOVES the library and her intense excitement and enthusiasm is probably the closest thing to what I imagine a toddler would be like on crack cocaine.)

(During dinner, she bursts into song): "I love you mom and Chas and Golds and everything about it!"

(While laying in bed with me in the morning, Chas came into the room all dressed and ready for work. When she saw him): "Looking cute, babe."

(Waxing philosophical in the car seat): "It's hard to be."


This pretty much sums up the very best thing about our neighborhood.

All these little girlfriends are basically exactly the same age (and there are even more who aren't in this photo, if you can believe it!). It's been so fun to see Hero become such so social- she lives for play dates and is always up for meeting new friends. I never knew how hugely important it is to have friends for your kids live nearby. And, boy, did we find the mecca of toddler girls!

So happy I was able to get this photo of all of them together before it got cold out. I keep meaning to get these printed and hung in Hero's room because I know how awesome she'd think it was to have a picture of all her friends up where she can see it everyday. Can't wait to watch this crazy crew grow up together!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

sister sister

Sometimes I really just can't help myself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Child of God like a baby in the chair."

Every day, when Hero goes down for a nap, I sing her four different songs. The last song, "I Am a Child of God," she always requests to be sung to her while I hold her "like a baby in the chair." Notice the hands all up in my hair. It really never stops. 

Over the weekend, I asked Chas to sneak a few photos of us doing this little tradition of ours. It's just one of those little things I want to always remember. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

me and Golds

I have basically no real photos of Hero and I together when she was a baby and I'm determined to not let that happen with G. I'm always telling mamas how important it is for them to be in photos with their littles and so it's high time I start practicing what I preach. I hope Goldie can look back on images like these one day and get a sense of how our relationship was back then and how much I loved and will always love her. 

It's so fun and interesting to see Goldie's personality show more and more. I think Chas and I would both agree that the best part about her is how quick she is to smile. Just by looking at either me, Chas, or Hero, she bursts into the sweetest, brightest, happiest smile. And then there's those big blue eyes of hers. I call them her "Disney princess eyes." So big and sparkly and pretty. 

She is a little more tricky of a baby than Hero was and we're still trying to really figure her out and how to best meet her needs consistently but we are patient with each other and in this thing together! Thanks for coming to our family, little G. We love you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

reading books

(So maybe I totally set up this cheesy little photo situation but, turns out, Hero was super into it. Giggling and walking around the circle on the books again and again. And then, of course, she lined them all up in a "book train" to walk over a million times. I gotta tell ya, it's pretty dang fun having a toddler who willingly and happily lets me take her picture.)

Hero's always adored reading books. I was the same when I was her age. In fact, my parents have home videos of me sitting on my bed and "reading" (reciting from memory) Clifford books. I LOVE that she enjoys reading so much. Not a day goes by that the two of us don't spend 30 mins to an hour sitting and reading together.

A few weeks ago, we had our very first real library experience. We brought home about 10 new books and, for the next 48 hours, I probably read those books to her for about 5 cumulative hours. A few days later, we took those books back and got new ones. I have a feeling this is going to totally save me this winter. And, the thing is, although I get pretty sick of the books that I've read a hundred times in two days, I NEVER get sick of the actual activity of reading of them to her.

When Goldie's awake, I've been letting her in on the action, too. I hold her on my lap and Hero snuggles up to me real close. With a warm, cozy blanket covering all three of us, I read to both of them. I'm pretty sure it's the closest thing to heaven that there is. Actually- I take that back- when we can watch the snow fall outside WHILE reading all together- THAT will be absolute heaven on earth.

my hero says

(Speaking to her stuffed monkey): "Are you happy, monkey? Make pancakes already!"

(Every once in a while, she'll stop whatever she's doing randomly ask very frantically): "Where's my haircut!?"

(When we ask her what she dreamed about during the night, her answer is always the same): "Becca." (her babysitter)

(Two days in a row, she came to the doorway of Goldie's room while I was feeding her in the morning, stated very matter of factly): "Apples, and pears, and raisins, and acorns. Ok, mom?" (And then she'd turn and walk away. She's also started saying the exact same phrase every night as we're walking out of her room after putting her to bed. NO CLUE what it's about but it is cracking me and Chas up.)

(Sometimes she'll look at me and say so enthusiastically and supportively): "Cute haircut, mom!"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

my golden graham

I remember time feeling slower with Hero. Every month felt like 2 or 3 months and I got to do almost nothing all day but soak her in. She was my whole world- all day, every day.

Goldie will be 4 months old on Tuesday this week. I can't even believe how fast these 4 months have whizzed by. She's rolling over, sitting up in a Bumbo, giggling, and growing out of her clothes like crazy. Being a mom of two is worlds different than being a mom of one. There aren't enough hours in the day to do all I want to do. I'm so busy caring for Hero. I read to her, play with her, feed her, change her, take her to the library, the aquarium, build forts with her, dance with her, and talk, talk, talk to her. And then there's cleaning the house, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, dinner, etc, etc, etc. Oh yeah, and photography. Goldie's in that heavenly baby world of sleeping lots. For the few hours a day she is up, she's just content being by Hero and I, taking it all in. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm missing Goldie grow up a little. Obviously, I love both my girls with all my heart but how am I supposed to divide my time equally between the two when one is a toddler who needs lots of attention and help (as all toddlers do) and one is a little baby who sleeps and lays quietly and simply observes? Goldie is coming up on my most favorite baby stage (4-6 months old) and I just want to fully BE there for every bit of it. I don't want to miss it. 

I think I'll start praying about that. How to be more fully in the moment with BOTH girls, help with discerning their individual needs, and having the energy, strength, and time management to try and give them each what they need most every day. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I hope she never stops

She plays with, twirls in her fingers, and gently pulls my hair when she wants to really kick back and relax in my arms. I hope she never stops.

the perfect way to start the day

Hero's usually a great sleeper-in-er but with the daylight savings time change, she's waking up at 7:30am. And yes, we know full-well that 7:30am is still probably the definition of sleeping in for most parents but when you're used to 9am and sometimes even 10am, 7:30am feels like the crack of dawn. The fact that we're still up with Goldie 1-3 times a night probably doesn't help either.

But there is definitely some good in this little scenario and that's getting to spend precious alone time with just Hero before we start getting ready for the day. Lately, one of us will simply take a turn getting up with her so the other can rest a bit more but what I really love is when we both just bite the bullet and get up so we can all three be together for a while. 

Hero's is a big, full-blown kid now and so sometimes we have to kiiiinda force her to come snuggle in bed with us. She'll start immediately saying things like, "No bed!" and "I want breakfast!" as soon as we bring her into our room but we've become pretty good at being able to distract her from all that just long enough to get her into bed and under the covers with us by talking about fun things we did the day before and what she dreamed about last night. Ok. So maybe it's a little sneaky but we've been bringing her into bed with us almost every single day since she was born and just because she's growing up and starting to protest a little bit, doesn't mean I'm suddenly ready to let go of our family morning snugs just yet. No way. And, besides, within minutes, she's happily participating, giggling, and then eventually jumping around on top of the bed with us. She just needs a little reminder initially that she secretly loves to start the day this way with us ;) 

Growing up is hard to do. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

on mondays we do family night

(I've really got to start handing the camera over to Chas so I can actually BE in some of these photos too.)

Chas and I aren't consistent in every area of the gospel. We seem to always struggle with maintaining great scripture study practices and our prayers are definitely prone to becoming less heart-felt and intentional than they should be. We need to get to the temple more frequently, also. We're working on it. 

But one thing that we've tried really hard to establish in our family- from day 1 of marriage- is making family home evening happen every monday night. During the new-parent adjustment period after Hero was born, family night kinda fell by the wayside most of the time. But we're back on the wagon and doing a pretty good job nowadays, I think! 

Hero LOVES family night. In fact, most nights, after dinner, she'll say something like "What do now, guys? Family night?!" Her enthusiasm makes it so much fun. Sure we can only hold her attention during a lesson for about 7 minutes max and maybe some weeks the lesson consists only of us sitting her on our laps and talking to her for a few minutes about something like prayer or temples but watching her cute face beam with happiness the whole time is enough to make me want to have family night every stinkin' evening. 

Sometimes I'll make time to actually prepare a short lesson with a fun visual aid or small game. Things like a really simple lion's mask for Hero to wear and "rawwwr!" with when we talked about Daniel and the lion's den or word strips with different "happy choices" and "sad choices" she could make during the day and then corresponding smiley face and sad face cups to put the choices in. Last week, when we talked about building a strong foundation of faith, I got two small tupperware bins- filled one with dirt ("sand") and put a large rock in the other, made two little paper houses, put one on the sand and one on the rock, and then poured water into each tupperware. My personal favorite was making us all little Thomas S. Monson puppets (taping his picture to a stick) and using them to sing a song together: "Where's the prophet? Where's the prophet? (hiding it behind our backs)...Here he is! Here he is! President Thomas S. Monson. President Thomas S. Monson. We love him. We love him." 

Besides a lesson, we also always start with a song (usually "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" at Hero's request), a prayer, and family announcements (where we talk about what we have coming up that week). After the lesson, we let Hero decide what she wants to do for our family play time activity and sometimes (rarely) we have a small treat. 

Short. Simple. Kinda perfect. 

After last night's family night activity we did the whole bath and bedtime routine. Nothing special or out of the ordinary. But for some reason, everything in the world just felt wonderful. Probably because, during those evening hours inside our little brick house, it was.