Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day

I just can't stop looking at that proud smile on Shae's face. So happy to be giving me this picture and poem that he made in Joy School, along with his sweet letter and picture that he made with daddy, his footprint/poem craft from storytime at the library, and his flower picture that he made at church. 


He was smiling SO big when I read this letter and when I got to the line--he stretched out his arms and showed me how much he loves me. And my heart explodes again just thinking about it.
 Our family, plus his friend Ayden, next to our house (with a pool). 
 Our librarian is SO brave (foot painting!). She amazes me each week with the crafts she pulls off with so many wild young kids. 
Belén may not have fully understood what was going on, but she was just as excited to give me her drawing. She also colored a flower picture in church and ran up to me afterwards yelling "Mommy mommy mommy!" holding out her picture to me. Whenever she saw it laying around the living room later in the day, she would grab it and bring it over to me again. I loved her determination in making sure that I knew it was for ME. It was clear that she felt something special about me and the picture and the day.

Listening to her sing "Happy shoo-shoo shoo you" while Shae and daddy sang "Happy Mother's Day to you," was easily one of my favorite parts of the day.

It was such a lovely day. I got to sleep in a wee bit--small apartments make sleeping in rather hard because you just can't mask that kid noise... Darin made a super yummy skillet hash breakfast full of potatoes, peppers, onions, and bacon with a fried egg on top. SO. GOOD.

Darin spoke at church and made everyone cry, including me while wrestling stickers and coloring books and Belén--tears that had nothing to do with me because I was not mentioned in the talk even once, I might add :). 

We ended RS 15 minutes early and had a litter snack and chat for all the ladies. It was more of a "say your final good-byes" sort of thing, rather than a Mother's Day thing, but great nonetheless.

We had a lovely chill afternoon at home. Played some games with Shae, talked to my mama, snuck in a nap (!!! which is mostly amazing just because I actually fell asleep which NEVER happens!!!) took pictures of these crazies while they talked to Darin's mama:

Without meaning to, dinner turned into a very similar dish to our breakfast. Potatoes, peppers, but with steak rather than bacon. It was funny that it turned out that way, and amazing to eat. Then, this dessert was easily one of the best desserts I have ever had. That is a bold statement, but I am not going back on it. It was that good. I'm already dying to make it again.

After the kids were in bed, I snuck off to play some games with friends since Darin was going to be studying all night for an exam he had early in the morning. He has been super stressed this past week with an exam and paper due yesterday and his comp exam in a week (and a talk in church), but he was a rock star yesterday and made sure it was all about me (and even gifted me those pretty pearls around my neck. How did I get so lucky?!). 

Having young kids is hard. It is EXHAUSTING. It is frustrating. Cleaning up the 10th milk spill of the day, wiping everyone's bum...and face...and fingers...and the furniture covered in food or drinks or who knows what. Helping with shoes and socks and coats and then doing it all over again when someone has taken everything back off while helping the other. Making a delicious meal just to hear complaints through the entire meal. Chasing naked bodies through the house in order to get their clothes on. The list goes on and on and on.

While I know I am not the first or only one to experience all of this (clearly), I had an experience the other day that was comforting to me and helped me remember that I am not alone. It connected me to all the past mother's who made ME possible... 

We were getting out of the car when Belén turned and started running into the street where a car was coming our way. I grabbed her before she got too far and literally saved her life. I looked at her and thought just that, "Dude! I just saved your life! ...And you have no idea!" 

My thoughts quickly turned to all the times that my own mother surely "saved my life," both figuratively and literally...but mostly literally! 

I'm so extremely grateful for loving mother's who give so much of themselves for our own well-being and happiness. Who "save us" in ALL the ways--even, and most especially, when we don't realize it or never seem to appreciate it. Who help shape us and mold us and then watch us try and tackle the world on our own. Their influence is always present, whether we realize it or not. We would be lost without mothers.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Two Year Old Moana-Elsa-Ninja-Supergirl

There had to be a ninja in there too, thank you big brother. She does everything he does. She loves everything he loves. The reverse is rarely true (unless it involves daddy twirling her around by her feet, then it is always true).

This sweet girl turns in to everyone and everything. Anytime we watch a show or movie it's always something like, "Moana. Me." Anytime we read a book, she is always in it. She's either llama llama or red riding hood or the random hippo giving kisses to it's mother. I just love how our whole family ends up in the story somehow. Today reading Cat in the Hat, she pointed out the little boy and girl as "Shae and me." Daddy was the Cat and I was the mother coming home at the end. There may be occasional fights between her and Shae about who is what character in certain books... "No, I'm the bear!" "Bear, Me!" 

Belén is always dressing up. Whatever she can find, she puts on. Joy School at our house is great for her for so many reasons, but mostly because it means she gets to take everyone's shoes and jackets and try them on (while all the 4 year olds freak out at her b/c she is wearing their stuff). 
Her current favorite dress up items are these sunglasses--that have been stepped on, hence the missing lenses and crookedness--and her hand-me-down Elsa dress.
She points out anytime someone in a book loses their hat. Which surprisingly, happens A LOT. "Oh no, hat!" she'll say. 

I've been worried about her speech, mostly because I'm comparing her to where Shae was at this age (which I know I shouldn't do, but I do). She jabbers all day long, it's just hard to understand actual words. It can be quite frustrating for both of us as she says a word over and over again and I just don't know what it is. With that said, we've noticed recently that she is putting more words together (lots of 2 word phrases and has just started putting 3 words together). She's also a BIT more articulate than she was a few months ago. For example, instead of saying "lana-la-la" for banana she nows says "na-na." She drops or changes most of the endings of words. She says hummey for hummus and opey for open. While not speaking as well as some of her little friends (which has made me feel so bad, like I haven't read to her or spoken to her enough), we see her progressing at her own pace week by week and it's exciting to see her communicate more and more, even if it isn't as quickly as I expected.


She has been saying "Ju" for water for about 6 months now. I'm sure it comes from juice, but it just amazes me that after 6 months of correction, our conversations still always go like this: Ju! You mean WATER. Wah-er!"

The girl has a killer grip and she always goes for the around-the-neck move. It is so hard to get out of that one. She looooooves wrestling. We quite often find Shae under here yelling, "Help! I can't breathe!" 

Belén Fun Fact: She ate this entire apple. The ENTIRE apple. The way small children eat apples is fascinating. We waste so much of it.

She is constantly getting in to things. If it's not one thing, it's another. Here she is with my headphones that I had stored away in a drawer. Sometimes I just feel like, what's the point? If I take it away, she'll just find something else.

She loves coloring, painting, and playing with play dough. Things that most kids like I suppose, but she actually sits and does them for quite awhile. Shae has such a short attention span with these kinds of things so it's fun to see her color and color and color.

I'll give you one chance to guess which brush was hers.
This girl is so independent. When she sets her mind to something, she does it. She's just so different from Shae. Shae has always been happier with someone else doing things for him, Belén prefers to figure things out on her own. I was shocked when she started cutting paper a few months ago. Every kid really is so different.
If there's something on the bookshelf she wants, she'll get it. If there are toes that need to be painted, she'll pain them...


Speaking of ways they are different, she is always singing and dancing. She asks me to twirl her while we dance to music and she is always trying to sing along. Because she can't articulate the words very well, it's mostly her making sounds, but always to the tune which is SO CUTE. She knows more songs than I realize. The other day I started singing "I See the Light" from Tangled and she was totally singing along! It was THE cutest thing! Oh man, this is probably my favorite thing about her right now. It's just so fun. 

For awhile there she would walk around the house singing, "Shae shae, go away..." and then hum the rest of the tune, "Come again another day." 


Potty training. We started the potty training process back in February. I wouldn't exactly say she's trained yet, more that we are, but we're getting there...maybe?...yes. Yes, we are. She occasionally tells us when she has to go, but mostly we just take her every few hours. She actually holds it for a long time, like from when she wakes up until lunch and then from after her nap until dinner (we've been experimenting to stretch the times we take her out to give her a chance to tell us, but she doesn't! She just holds it until we take her or until it's been too long and she just can't anymore--accident). 

Just in the past few weeks she's gotten really angry when we take her potty. She yells no and smacks me in the face and then jumps right off the potty as soon as I put her down. It's great. Some might say, "She's just not ready yet," but we're not going back now, it'll click someday, right? Right!? 

Overall, she really does well peeing, but we have the same issue that we had with Shae that pooping is the real struggle. She just stores it up until she she has a diaper on at nap time and then goes then. She has gone a few times in the past few weeks in the potty so we're hopeful that things are looking up. Ooohhhh potty training. Such a treat.
Checking out her new Elsa undies.

She has THE hardest time when we leave for Shae's swim lessons, because she isn't in her bathing suit and yells "Me, simming!" all the way to the Y. Poor girl. I usually leave her in the childcare, but a few weeks back I chose to bring her with us so that we could have some mommy and B bonding time. I brought books and everything. All she did the entire time was jump off the bleachers, pull her shirt up, and run towards the pool where Shae's class was taking place. I haven't tried again since.

We do try and go to open swim as a family every so often, so she does get her chance to go "simming" too, and she eats it up. 

Anytime she sees me in the kitchen, she immediately runs over to the dining room, grabs a chair and drags it in so that she can cook with me. It's so cute how much she loves being in their with me (until there is water and flour everywhere and sponges in my cookie dough and the silverware drawer is completely reorganized). It really just cracks me up how quickly it all happens as soon as she sees me in there, "Cook, cook, cook cook, me," while pulling a chair in. 

Monkey see monkey do. Please tell me that a child's desire to copy parents cleaning lasts forever. Wait, it doesn't? Nnnoooo!!!!
We had quite a bit of snow this winter and she was constantly eating it. As soon as we got outside she'd grab herself a handful and start chomping on it. I had to watch her closely because she would pick up the brown and yellow snow just as quickly as she would the white stuff.

One day I grabbed some snow off the balcony for them to play with in the tub. Belén barely played with it. She mostly ate it.
"Thanks mom, for the bath tub treat."

Eating with her is always an adventure. Crushing crackers, ripping up cheese into tiny pieces, throwing tomatoes across the table. Mostly just saying she wants "foo! foo! foo!" (food) until we actually sit her down to eat and then she doesn't want anything to do with it. 

The below pictures are from a Joy School class where we played with shaving cream. It was really fun, and really messy, which kind of sums up my life with her right now.


We love watching her little imagination go to work. Besides pretending to be characters in movies/songs/books, she has recently started using her surroundings as her imagination playground. Lately, the kitchen has been a choo choo train or a school bus.
She would live outside on the balcony if I let her. She's so content to be out there with some chalk or a bucket of water and a paint brush. She always tries to bring tommy (Thomas the Tank Engine) inside with her and I always say no (it's so dirty and filled with water).
She has always been our perfect little sleeper, but just over the past few months she's had some rough patches (thank you molars and climbing out of the pack n' play--we have now moved her naps to her crib where she has yet to climb out). Naps were rough for a 2 week period. The only way I could get her to sleep was holding/rocking her and often I could never get her in to the crib without her waking up and letting out blood-curdling screams again. While it was definitely frustrating at times, I also had some pretty precious moments holding her while she slept on me. Thankfully, this little stint is over and she usually takes a solid 1.5 hour nap during the day.
She has become more particular with bedtime routines. Right now it consists of doing "tuck tuck" with her blankie, not just to her, but to baby and Tabby too, and singing a line of "How Far I'll Go" from Moana and then a line of "Let it Go" from Frozen. It only takes two minutes so I really don't mind at all. I can't get enough of her yelling out "Elda!" or "O-ana!" in a frantic plea to get me to stay longer if I forget. Today as I was leaving she yelled out "Jee-us Ky-st!" (Jesus Christ) which I assumed meant she wanted a church song, sure enough, she did. She knows how to work me.

We also went through a little week period where she would wake up at about 5:30 a.m. and we couldn't get her to lay down in her bed again, but she would happily come fall back to sleep in our bed...which usually resulted in me having half of a toddler's body on me while I tried to fall back asleep. Again, while sweet to get some extra snuggles with this one, I'm glad that little stint has ended as well.

She generally sleeps these days from a little after 8 p.m. (we put her down at 8 and she usually talks/sings or yells at Shae for a few minutes before letting the sleep take over) until somewhere between 7 and 8 a.m. 
Belén is opinionated and stubborn. When she sets her mind to something, she gets VERY upset when it doesn't happen (like when she wanted to feed her graham crackers to the geese in the middle of the pond on a 50 degree day and didn't understand why I wouldn't let her run straight in to the water to feed them--she was NOT happy about that one). 

She scrunches up her nose and says, "No!" to me about 50 times a day. 

She bites, she hits, and she yells.
She is also very sweet and funny. We love watching her goofy side develop (like when we say, "What does the duck say?" and she says "Mmmmoooooooo" and then laughs at herself like she just made the greatest joke known to man).

I love how she lets me cuddle her in the rocking chair or standing by her crib before her nap. I love how she brings me book after book after book to read until I tell her no more. I love how she grabs my hand on Sunday morning after we get dressed so that we can both go look at ourselves in the mirror together and twirl. I love how she "sings" along with me (this started back at Christmas with the Gloria part of Angels We Have Heard On High and is now just one of the many songs in her repertoire). 

I just love love love this sweet and spicy girl of ours...and all those beautiful red curls! 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sacred Grove Visit

Here's a few pictures from our trip up to Palmyra last weekend. A couple from our branch babysat for a few couples while we went to the temple in the morning. Last trip we visited the Hill Cumorah location and this time we did the Smith Farm tour, which included the Sacred Grove.

 Learning about Moroni visiting Joseph Smith.
 Checking out the fire place where the plates were hid at one point.


 While it might have been nice to have had a more peaceful, thought-provoking walk through the woods opposed to trying to keep Belén on the path and reassuring Shae that poison ivy wasn't coming to get him, it was still special to be in that sacred place with my family.