Budding Independence

9.29.2011
We’ve finally reached “that” milestone. It’s here. And it has hit us like a ton of bricks. We’re still scrambling to pick up the pieces of our broken bodies as more bricks rain down. Yes, I’m talking about the “terrible two’s”—which really start at about 18 months, but no one ever tells a first time mom that. It just happened one day. I thought I saw it coming, but it came like a freight train; it came much bigger and faster than I anticipated.

Where did my sweet baby go? He grew into a little boy overnight and suddenly has a mind of his own. Plus, little boys have no natural inhibitors or boundaries. Therefore, Jed is a monster; a short little monster about knee high.

For example, Jed is training to be a professional pitcher for the New York Yankees or something. He throws EVERYTHING! We’re lucky he hasn’t made a hole in the wall… yet. Over the last few days I’ve begun taking action by picking up the offending toy with a “Uh-oh! This is no fun. You threw your toy. It’s all gone.” I don’t know if the consequence has quite sunk in yet. It certainly has backfired at the dinner table! For a long time now, I’ve simply said “All done.” and removed Jed from his booster seat whenever I see him throw his food. (It can scrape the window!) Instead of Jed learning NOT to throw his food, it’s simply his queue that he is done with his meal. The little stink.

Today (this happened on a different outing yesterday) I went shopping with Jed. Jed is my little monster and I wanted to get a head start on his monster Halloween outfit (because I’m CRAZY about Fall and Halloween is one of my all-time favorite holidays). So there we were in the fabric store. I’m checking out the sales and trying to read the tiny print on the back of a pattern I’m crossing my fingers I can actually sew while simultaneously trying to decide on the best colors for Jed’s costume. I let Jed stand in the cart with each fist holding a car. About five minutes later, he is done with those. Off they fly into the corner, onto the floor, and out of reach. I bend down, grab them, and stuff them in my purse. “Uh-oh. You threw your toys. All gone.” Then Jed starts to scream. I’m in public. I can’t let other people’s ears suffer, so I pull another toy out of my bag. Soon we’re on to the pretzels. They too get smashed and thrown with a loud helping of whine from Jed’s obnoxious lungs. I start over with the toys. I hand him some spools of thread. Each item holds his interest just long enough for me to think he’s okay. I must’ve looked like an idiot, bending down over and over to pick something up off the floor. You’d think I’d have buns of steel after doing all those squats. No, all I got was frustrated and short-tempered. I should’ve just left. But I didn’t. That stubborn part of me really wanted to see this through. Bad idea. I was feeling so ill-tempered by the time we left, I yelled at Jed when he started to whine in the back seat. Guess what? He laughed! Jed had the nerve to laugh! I guess I can cross raising my voice off the list of successful discipline tactics. When we finally arrived home, Jed begged for a piece of candy. You can probably guess what I told him. I told him “no”. That led to Jed throwing a royal fit, which led me to pick him up and put him in his room where he could continue to throw an even bigger tantrum.

I know you’re laughing, but I’d had it. I needed to vent. Thankfully, my mother answered her phone. She laughed when I told her my story, but then dumped a whole load of sympathy. It was just what I needed to hear. I guess this is normal behavior for a budding toddler. I should probably keep my shopping excursions short or just go by myself. My mom reminded me that I should also notice the good behavior and make a big deal out of it. (Oh yeah, I’d forgotten all about that!) She also reminded me that there is nothing better I could be doing than being a mother. Thanks, Mom!

This stage of Jed’s development is hard. He’s not quite old enough to communicate and he only understands about half of what I am saying to him. Raising Jed is going to take lots of time, lots of consistency, lots of patience, and lots of love. Unfortunately, my fuse for patience is a little short and I sometimes let a thrown toy go unnoticed. But I have time. And I definitely have more love than I ever imagined I would ever have towards somebody!

I can do better tomorrow. I can be a better mother. I can have more patience. I can handle each situation better with more practice. At least that’s what I am telling myself!

Is it all right to say that sometimes Jed is the bane of my existence but also the very reason for my living? What a paradox!

And what's a blog post without pictures?

The nursery in our new ward at church serves water in cups. Jed had no idea what to do! So being the awesome mom that I am, I gave him a cup to practice with at home. It was a flop. Apparently, a cup is just a device to hold and soak other food items! Gross. I think we'll be sticking to a sippy cup for a while longer. Jed has also been experimenting with a spoon. Yogurt seems to be the food of preference. It's messy business, but that's Jed's job!

Jed likes to play underneath the bathroom sink. He has a fascination with q-tips. He throws them around and sucks off the cotton. It's a good thing they're easy to clean up because this particular mess was totally worth my relaxing hot shower!

Our Awesomely Long Weekend

9.28.2011
We had a fabulous weekend with lots of family and lots of activities!

Jed and I technically began our weekend a little early on Thursday.  Bron had some farms to visit in the Treasure Valley, so we came along for the ride and he dropped us off at my mom's house.  It felt so good to spend an afternoon alone with my mom!  We ate lunch (I haven't seen Jed eat that much at once in a long time), played at the park, and talked with my sister on the phone.  It was simple, but relaxing and fun.  I am so happy we live so close!

Jed is a trooper.  He's a great traveler.
I like this picture because I loved the look of Jed's tiny white church shirt hanging next to Dad's big one.

On Friday, Jed and I accompanied Bron on a trip to visit a dairy in a beautiful little valley in the middle of nowhere.  Afterwards, we had a few hours to kill so we decided to take the short trip down the road and explore Craters of the Moon.  Craters of the Moon is a strange desolate place.  It's where a river of lava flowed just over 2,000 years ago.  I wouldn't call it pretty.  I'd call it weird.

 Craters of the Moon

 We did some short hikes/walks.  
Jed gets nervous on uneven terrain and likes someone to hold his hand.  My pleasure! 

We also went spelunking through a deep lava tube cave!

Next, we drove over to Butte, Idaho where Ririe High School was playing football against their long time rival.  I love fall football games: the lights, the sweaters and blankets, the cheering in the stands.  (Even Jed had some 14 year old girls screaming his name!)  It's an annual ritual I hope continues for generations.  We lost the game but had a good time anyway.

We all cheered for Bron's younger brother, Kaleb.  Can you spot #52?

Saturday was a blast!  We spent the entire afternoon paint balling!  The Nelson boys grew up with their cousins, the Spackman's; another family of boys (plus one token princess).  Girls are a rarity in this family!  But the boys are all growing up, dating, and getting married.  Which means the best picks of all girls belong to the family now!  We got the family together, donned Uncle Troy's old army attire, and headed into the cotton woods.  I was nervous.  I'd never been paint balling before.  All I'd heard was that it hurt!  I got shot right in the arm midway through our first game.  It stung, but after that, I was good to go!  I didn't want to stop playing!  We crawled through the brush, hid behind trees, and shot each other with hundreds of paint balls!  I think everyone came away with a couple of welts and some sore muscles.  My arm is still tender.  But it was totally worth it!  We're already planning our next battle.

 Top: JT's head shot, Toughies Talon and Amber, Me with a gun (scary!)
Bottom: Call ready for battle, Amber taking Talon by surprise

Paintball Warriors of the Cotton Woods
Call, Ryker, Chelsea, Bron, Kaleb, Ladd, Talon, Amber, Chade, Joni

We finished up the weekend at Ladd's mission farewell on Sunday.  Then we spent many more hours with extended family.  Yes, we ate too, of course!  That night "the guys" (Travis, Tyson, Sam, and Brett) and their wives--and now their babies too--all came over to hang out.  They are Bron's best friends and probably always will be.  It's so much fun to see everyone and especially see the babies!  

On Monday, Jed and I got to see what Bron does for work first-hand.  We stopped at several dairies and feedlots.  It made for a long day in the car, but we got to stop at Rupe's for burgers and shakes for lunch.  That always makes my day.  That, and watching Jed do a dance in his car seat!  Turn up the music!

Being so close to family again is a very, very, good thing.

 I also had the privilege of taking pictures of my ONLY niece, Leah.  
She's so cute!  She has her momma's gorgeous crystal blue eyes.  

18

9.22.2011
A Piece of Idaho Beauty

City of Rocks

9.20.2011


For our family, the weekends aren’t meant for sitting still. The weekends are meant for fun! Last Saturday we decided to explore The City of Rocks—a national reserve. It was a two hour drive to get there through some of the prettiest (also known as “Podunk”) countryside. The City of Rocks is a geological anomaly. Slabs of granite jut out of the ground hundreds of feet high! It was a unique landmark for California bound wagon trains in the 1840’s. Now, it’s a Mecca for rock climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts, like us.

Bron and I have always enjoyed hiking together, and we’re determined to pass that love along to our son. We strapped Jed into the backpack and started hiking the trails. It felt wonderful to be outside! It was peaceful and quiet and uniquely pretty. The day just felt refreshing.

Views from our hike. 
Jed took a short snooze in the backpack.

The sign reads: "Pets must be leashed at all times."

A little boy's paradise: A CITY of ROCKS!

The weekend prior was spent with family at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. We watched some horse races! My favorite races were the Indian Relays. Even Jed got into the fun. He was a little confused, but he watched the horses make their laps and clapped with everyone else. Then Amber and I spent ten dollars in five minutes flat. We rode two fair rides that took us upside down, made us dizzy, and pumped up our adrenaline. Thanks, Amber! Afterwards, we all watched a hypnotist show and perused through the agricultural showcases before ending the evening at Rupe’s Diner for dinner. That was a fun day!

As for the everyday stuff? Well, Bron has been getting into the swing of things at work. He’s been busy! But I can tell he is enjoying it. I went a little crazy with Bron’s first paycheck. Wow. It’s AWESOME to finally have some money in the bank! However, I learned something valuable: It doesn’t matter how much money one has; there will always be something one wants. And if one is not careful, then it doesn’t matter how much money there is because it’s spent and gone! I think Bron expected I’d go a little crazy. He’s not chastising me too much. Haha Now, I’m reigning myself in and getting excited for DIY projects and couponing.

Because it’s still so nice outside, my main modes of transportation for Jed and I are the stroller and the bike. Both have flat tires now. I was more than three miles from home when the front tire on my bike went as flat as a pancake. So I walked. It was a miserable trek. By the time we reached the apartment, I acquired a blister and a screaming baby. Not cool.

So why do I suddenly have so many flat tires on the things I’ve been using all summer? Bron simply said, “Maybe someone was watching out for us in New York. We can afford to fix a flat tire now.” I wonder how close to the truth that is?

Our New Life in Idaho

9.08.2011
We have been making our home in Twin Falls, Idaho for nearly a month now. So far… so good. Twin is a little city equipped with absolutely everything a family might need. There’s a college, a brand new hospital, lots of shopping, and a ton of parks. What makes Twin Falls unique is the gorge. The Snake River runs through a deep canyon just north of the city and a bridge hundreds of feet above the canyon floor is the city’s major entrance from the freeway. It’s a breathtaking sight. The canyon boasts some parks and golf courses and the famous Shoshone Falls. There are many trails along the rim and inside the canyon. Jed and I have been exploring our new stomping grounds. I don’t think we’ll get too bored any time soon. Also, the weather in Idaho is downright awesome! It’s been its typical self: hot and dry. That’s right. No rain. Just how I like it, especially after experiencing rain showers on an eighteen hour rotation in northern New York. We’ve been soaking up these last weeks of sunshine and summer like sponges.

Bron is really enjoying his new job at J.D. Heiskell. Bron smiles when anyone mentions his new job title: Dairy Consultant. Bron truly landed his dream job. We feel so blessed and so lucky! Bron works with a bunch of men that have many similar interests. They make it easy for Bron to feel comfortable in his new work environment. Bron’s job also comes with some very nice perks, like a “new” truck. Bron now drives a white 2010 Dodge pickup. It’s a very nice ride and doesn’t belong in the driveway of our apartment complex. But I like the sight of my honey driving a truck. It’s manly and kind of sexy! The truck comes with all the upgrades including satellite radio and leather seats with both heat and air conditioning. Yes, you read that right: air conditioned seats! No more sweaty backs and rear ends. The seats have fans. Wow. On top of all that, Bron has an iphone4 that he is connected to and a new laptop. The gas Bron uses in the pickup is reimbursed through the company along with his meals, hotel stays, and any other expenses (like golf!) done on the job. I’m a little jealous. Bron eats out every afternoon while Jed and I pick through the fridge for leftovers! (Oh well. I still think my end of the deal as stay-at-home mom rocks!)

So what does Bron actually do? Well, first, Bron is learning how to properly balance rations. That is, Bron creates and checks different diets for calves, fresh cows, dry cows, etc. using whatever ingredients are available on the market while also trying to get the farmer the best price. Properly fed cows are healthy cows. Healthy cows yield more milk. Next, Bron visits with various dairy farmers. Bron helps the farmers troubleshoot problems on their farms and sells feed. Some farmers have contracts with J.D. Heiskell and others do not. Right now, Bron is being trained to work with farmers in Utah, central and eastern Idaho, and Montana. Bron can be gone one night a week, two nights a week, or sometimes none at all. One night away is all right for me. Two nights makes me feel a little lonely.  However, the good news is Bron is home ALL WEEKEND LONG! Sadly, we're still adjusting to all this free time together. We look at each other and aren't quite sure what to do! But it’s a wonderful change I think we will all adjust to pretty quickly. 

I am officially a full-time homemaker and mother. It blows my mind. We are living the typical American dream life (minus the cute house in the suburb, but something like that will come later). Bron leaves for work before 8:00AM. I finally roll out of bed a few minutes later and get some breakfast for myself and the little man. Then Jed and I spend the rest of the day together. We go for a jog, play at the park, do some chores, eat, take a nap, eat again, run errands, and more. Dinner is around 6:00PM when Bron comes home. And before I become complacent, I have to mention my dishwasher! It does all the clean-up work. Instead of standing at the sink for 45 minutes every night, I run through the kitchen like a whirlwind and have it clean in 15 minutes. The stress level in this house is at a minimum—mostly because Bron is done with school and we are no longer living like students. I can’t explain how nice it is!

On Tuesday nights I play my violin in the local symphony at the college. It’s half community members and half college students. There’s some talent and it’s fun to play again!

We’re getting involved in the ward (Yes, an Actual. Functional. Ward!) at church.  I've been asked to teach the Sunday School lesson to the 15-16 year olds.  Bron is my assistant; he's there to lay down the law.  I've already determined not to take anything those teenagers do or say personally because I remember what a brat I was at that age and I knew it too!  Bron also teaches the lesson in Elders' Quorum twice a month.  And Jed is getting his first taste of nursery here and there.

We have also been house shopping already. It’s exciting and so much fun! I can’t believe the homes that we are able to afford. I keep dreaming of the day we will move into one!

I’d say we’ve hit the ground running, but still, it’s a slow process to make friends again and feel truly at home. I often feel a little lonely and find myself missing our little corner of New York and the friends I had there. I don't feel needed here yet by anyone (except for the little boy who clings to my knees in the mornings and begs for his sippy of milk and a story) and I find myself resenting being in an LDS saturated community.  I miss the green and the trees of New York. I like the openness here in Idaho. I like being able to see the hills and mountains in the distance, but I don’t like being able to see all of my neighbor’s homes and all of their cars. The trees hid everything like that in New York; they made me feel secluded. I miss Miner Farm and being able to take Jed out to see the cows and horses. I actually miss my job feeding calves a little bit! I miss my runs and bike rides and the lake. And I really desperately miss a few special people! I know we’ll always keep in touch, but it’s just not the same. I feel very blessed to have crossed paths with them for a while.

But anyway, here’s to a bright future! I think we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. Too many things aligned just right to make us think otherwise.  In time, I think everything will be more than okay.

Happy Labor Day Weekend

9.07.2011
We had a wonderful three day weekend packed full to the brim with fun, family, and food! 

Our little family of three kicked off the weekend here in Twin Falls at the local fair.  I love the fair!  The fair is the last celebration of summer.  I look forward to it every year!  We devoured fatty fair food, strolled through the exhibits, and spent lots of time looking at all the 4H prize animals.  That was Jed's favorite part--that and the giant tractors!  His mouth hung open in awe.

At the county fair!

Jed inside a giant tractor tire!

On Saturday afternoon, my mom and family drove the two hours from Meridian, ID to see us.  We went to Dierke's Lake for a hamburger cookout.  We all ate too much delicious picnic food like brownies, and potato salad, fresh fruit, and a zucchini dip that tasted just like an artichoke dip.  The boys are great babysitter/playmates for Jed.  They allow me to sit back and chat... and pick at yummy leftovers.  We played at the park and at the beach and Bron went swimming with Michael.  It was a relaxing afternoon outside.  Before leaving, however, we had to catch a peek at Shoshone Falls.  During certain times of the year it rivals Niagara.  It's really something to see!  And it's right here in our backyard now. 

Top: How we clean a baby's hands for dinner--dip him in the lake!
Middle: Bron and Michael swimming.  Mom and Greg sitting at the picnic table.
Bottom: Ryan snarfing a gigantic hamburger.  Jed's cute sandy bum.

Shoshone Falls

On Sunday half the congregation was absent from church.  The realization that it was a holiday weekend was all the motivation Bron needed for a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Nelson Dairy in Ririe, ID.  It's still a novelty to be so close to family again.  So I quickly packed an overnight bag and we hit the open road.  (After we saw a few homes that are for sale.  We've been doing a lot of that too lately!  It's fun and exciting!) 

I think Monday was one of the best days of Jed's little life.  Jed and I began our day with a short trip up the road to Rexburg to visit my good friend, Katy.  We met at Porter Park to let the boys play while we got caught up on just about EVERYTHING.  It was sooo good to see her!  I also got to meet baby Gemma for the first time.  What a precious little girl!  I hadn't planned on letting Jed play at the splash park because it was still a little cool outside, but he was attracted to that water like a magnet is to metal.  So we stripped our boys down and let 'em run! 

After saying goodbye to Katy, I wasn't quite ready to head back yet.  I browsed through one of my favorite stores and then bought Jed and me a chocolate irish cream cupcake and cinnamon-chocolate frappe.  What a lunch!

Jake 3 years
Jed 16 months

Back at the dairy on Monday afternoon, we women and the babies went out to see how the boys were doing working in the dust and the heat.  They were getting ready to pour cement.  The scene was Jed's ideal playground: dirt, rocks, and tractors!!!  He stayed out there for hours with Bron.  Jed couldn't have been happier!  We ended the day with hamburgers on the grill and a meal outside together.  Then Jed had to take a bath! 

I love family.  And I love that farm.

Top: Talon and Bron, Jed and dirt
Middle: Amber takes her turn at the wheel, Call developing some "character" and muscle
Bottom: View from the front porch, Cousins Leah and Jed

Jed's happiness was uncontainable as he waved from the tractor!

What a weekend!  And a great one too.

Sunday Morning

9.04.2011
...after a bath.
Jed was so happy to be wild and free in his birthday suit!  He made us laugh. 
And this sweet little face melts my heart.

A Week in Paradise: Day 5

9.01.2011
Friday August 12, 2011:

Friday was our last day in Hawaii, and it was the best day too. I wish we would’ve done what we did that day sooner! When we went down to the office to pick up our rental car at 8:00AM, it wasn’t there. When we went back at 10:00AM, we drove away in a convertible mustang! We were livin’ large! It was sooo much fun! We sped down the highway with the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. That day we toured the island on our own time and in our own way.

Proof that we were there with a convertible mustang.  Wahoo!

First, we made it to Bellows Beach. It’s the beach where my family used to go camping. It was my brother’s and my favorite beach because of the “big” waves. We spent many days booging boarding there and watching for sea turtles. Upon arriving at Bellows, Bron and I dropped our jaws. There was hardly another soul there! The sand was white and the water pristine. It was no wonder it was our favorite beach all those years ago. I romped in the waves and all I could think of was my brother. I wished he was there with me at that moment. Reliving the sights and feelings of that beach was so much fun for me!


Views of Bellows Beach

Doing a sexy "bay watch" run along the beach.  haha
(Apparently I have no shame.  My thighs are on the web for the world to see!)

Next, Bron and I went exploring for Kailua beach. That beach really does live up to its reputation. The water was calm and the colors just blew us away. The beach was a dream! We spent a couple of hours there swimming and snorkeling and just simply enjoying ourselves.

Kailua Beach

Going for a swim in paradise!
(P.S.  That swimshirt is a redhead's life saver!  Literally.)

We continued around the coast of the island and stopped at the world “famous” yellow Shrimp Shack for lunch. It was just a truck on the side of the road, but the food was delectable! We gorged ourselves on coconut shrimp and garlic butter shrimp.

Oceanside Food

We made a few more sight-seeing stops before coming upon giant sea turtles just “hanging loose” on the shore. There were six turtles. They didn’t do much more than lay there and raise a sleepy eyelid at us from time to time, but it was an awesome sight!

An awesome sea turtle just hanging out on the beach

By then it was late afternoon, a perfect time for a short hike. Bron and I walked a half mile to Waimea Falls. We went swimming! Bron loved the fresh water. The pool was sixty feet deep and cool. We played underneath the waterfall and relished in the novelty of being in Hawaii and swimming in a mountainside pool.

Waimea Falls
On the walk back down the trail, we took in the scenic mountainside; there were incredible native trees, strange plants, and beautiful flowers. 

I just couldn't get enough of those gorgeous plants and flowers!

We finished our day with snow cones at the beach in Haleiwa. Then we drove off into the sunset (to catch our red-eye flight home). There aren’t any words to describe how fun and beautiful a day it was. It was truly perfect!

Thank you, Bron, for taking me on this incredible adventure! I’m sure we will remember it for many years. I feel so incredibly lucky to have gone on a trip like this and to have you by my side the entire time.

And that folks, concludes our trip to Hawaii.  Thanks for reliving the adventure with us!