Come Let Us Adore Him... and the Lights!

11.30.2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  On our way home from visiting my grandparents in Utah, Bron humored me by taking me to visit the lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  It is a spectacular sight!  If you've never seen Temple Square at Christmastime, I definitely recommend it.  Thousands of lights are wrapped around every single tree branch on dozens of trees.  That, combined with remembering the true meaning of Christmas, makes for a brilliant winter evening.  So bring on the cookies, bells, music, and hot chocolate!  This is the most wonderful time of the year.   

 Jed really did enjoy himself.  He apparently didn't want his picture taken.

To Grandmother's House We Went

11.28.2012
The boys and I hitched a ride to Utah with Bron to visit my grandparents, also known as Jed and Levi's GREAT-Grandparents.  Travel is getting hard on them and it was high-time they meet their seventh great-grandson for the first time, so we brought Levi to them.

I love my grandparents.  They are neat people.  They are rich in personal history.  And Grandma isn't afraid to announce her mistakes and tell all that she's learned!  My grandparents are genuine.  They're giving.  They are many things I hope to be.  I feel lucky to know them so well.

We lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was a kid.  Visiting their house is visiting my childhood home.  I'm always surprised at how small everything seems.  My memory still makes the house and yard so much bigger than it really is!  I also remember my grandparents as young and spry and energetic.  They each turned 60 while I lived with them.  (That's nearly 20 years ago now!)  They were my second set of parents while my mother returned to school full time.


It's a little hard for me to see them now; they're getting old.  Grandma and Grandpa each took afternoon naps while we visited.  Grandma doesn't cook like she did and her energy level just isn't what it used to be.  Grandpa is much worse.  He is beginning the long and difficult road of Alzheimer's.  He's also pretty much deaf.  Thankfully, he is still sweet and calm when he becomes confused.  We try to talk, but he can't remember words to finish his sentences.  However, he LOVES my boys.  He and Jed share a love for reading.  Grandpa also couldn't get enough smiles from Levi.  He watched Levi play on the floor.  He held Levi in his lap and kept commenting on his eyes and cheeks and how big he is.    

I can't help reflecting on the circle of life: on generations, on family, on what we leave behind when we die.  My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and through World War II, and they've seen all the changes in our modern age.  They have six children and a story all their own.  And now they are entering that last stage of their lives when they are preparing to leave.  I hate the thought that most of us will have to get sick to leave this Earth.  I don't like the thought of watching my grandparents become sick.

Even so, it felt good to see them!  We went out to dinner with my Aunt Mari and two of my cousins.  Jed played with classic 50 year old toys.  I also got to see and catch up with two childhood friends: Catherine and Sian and meet their families.  There's a lot of love in this imperfect extended family of mine.  I love my family and I'm glad I get to share that love with my two little boys.  

A Traditional Thanksgiving: Nelson Style

11.24.2012
Some things are worth doing every single year.  That is why we call them "traditions".  The Nelson boys (Bron and his five brothers) seem very keen on this idea.  "But it's tradition!" they cry.  I think their world would stop spinning if some of those traditions, like eating apple pie, didn't occur every year.  And other times?  Well, they're just using "tradition" to get a little something extra in their favor.  (Ahem.  Fong's again?  We did that once... last yearBut I suppose if it was fun, we might as well add it to the yearly list, right?  Sure!

Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is that the Thanksgiving traditions we have going on at the Nelsons are worth doing a thousand years over.  I look forward to this weekend every year!

There are 11 grandchildren now, 7 are still in diapers.  To say it was nuts is an understatement.  I just wonder how it will be in a few years!  So much fun.
Look at that perfect crust!  It only took me 5.5 years to do it.  I was thinking of my good friend Anna and our apples pies the entire time I was rolling it out.
 Momma Nelsons' favorite sight: Watching her boys enjoy being together.

Tradition #1:  Scrumptious food and pie.  Dinner is followed by conversation and games that last nearly all night long.  Our favorite late night games might or might not include watching each other make fools of ourselves in charades-like efforts.  

Tradition #2:  We ladies are up before the crack of dawn to take on the crowds for Black Friday shopping.  The lack of sleep was sooo worth it!  And trust me on that lack of sleep.  I got less than four hours of it; something about being away from home overnight with two little ones.  It was one rough night.  But I got 90% of all my shopping done!  We are going to have one fabulous Christmas.  I can't help spoiling my boys!  Jed is going to flip out.

Tradition #3:  The entire family goes bowling on Friday afternoon!  It's loud and noisy and fun.  And Jed practiced making half my points for me.  He's a stud.

We are so blessed to have family.  
~HAPPY THANKSGIVING!~


P.S.  This weekend marks the beginning of a month of parties and traveling and family.  Stay tuned!

Ramblings on Joy and Family

11.20.2012

"Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family." -President Thomas S. Monson

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we will all be counting and listing our blessings.  This year though, I want to focus on those blessings a little differently.  I believe it's by recognizing those blessings as they occur every single day that makes life rich and fulfilling.

I'm no expert, but recognizing my blessings comes relatively easy for me.  By nature I am a very optimistic and happy person.  My glass isn't just half full, it's overflowing!  I absolutely know that I have so many people and things for which to be grateful.  That is a quality Bron says attracts him to me.  I take that as one of the greatest compliments he can give.  And as embarrassed as I am to admit this, blogging actually helps me recognize the joyful little things in my life.  Being a stay-at-home mom is no cake walk and the day to day tasks can become mundane--there's changing diapers, feeding the Littles, listening to them whine, laundry, dishes, etc.--but still, I find joy!

For me, joy comes in small snipets of time.  They come when I peek over the side of the crib in the morning to see my baby smiling up at me.  They come when I see the look on Jed's face as I read him the same book for the twentieth time.  They come when my husband whispers in my ear, "I love you" before heading off to work in the morning as I lay in bed.  They come in that moment when I conquer that three mile run (whilst pushing two little people)!

I'm surprised of how emotional I become when I talk about these things out loud.

From the outside looking in I seemingly "have it all".  And it's true, I really do.  I have so much!  I am downright spoiled.  I told Bron that sometimes I'm afraid it will all come crashing down.  He agreed.  We never know what life will throw at us next.  But then I said I think the biggest threat to this life of ours would be "us".  We could easily become the culprits in bringing down everything we've worked so hard to build together: us failing to communicate, us forgetting to love and take time for one another.

You see, as much as this blog portrays a perfect family life, it's not without normal everyday struggles.  Concentrating on us has been hard this last year through my pregnancy and adjusting to a brand new baby.  I'm just not myself when I'm pregnant.  And a new baby is just plain demanding.  It's been hard to spend that much needed quality time together--just the two of us.  Who knew family life could be so tough?  "Us" has suffered.  But now, we're ready to recommit and bring ourselves out of that slump.  Best of all, we have a game plan.  We're setting goals and we're determined to stick to them.

First order of business: date nights.  We're both ready to go out alone, that means without our children.  As hard as it is for me to part with my baby, I need to do it.  I'm nervous about leaving Levi with a babysitter and a bottle because he doesn't take a bottle very well.  But my relationship with my husband comes first.  I don't think three hours with a sitter will do Levi any harm.  And likewise, Bron is adjusting to a new career.  He's learning that he will sometimes simply have to put our date night in his calendar and treat it just like any other appointment.  That's right.  There's a time for work and a time for family.

I'm so very grateful for a husband who makes me a priority, who also wants to spend some quality time with his boys every night.  Jed has become Bron's little buddy.  Jed loves his dad and wants to be in the same room with him every moment he is home.  It makes my heart smile.

So here we are coming full circle: finding joy in the journey.

I'm learning that it takes conscious effort to prioritize our time and our family and to recognize those special moments in our lives as they occur everyday, but that effort brings me so much personal joy and satisfaction.

What brings you joy?

P.S.  Levi rolled over on his own for the very first time yesterday, from back to front and then front to back.  I am honestly impressed!  I am so proud of my baby boy.

The Great Hambino

11.16.2012
Levi is a ham.  He is also a night owl.
That, combined with Jed already asleep in his bed and Bron gone overnight again, found us in front of the bathroom mirror last night making faces.
(Yes, this is the type of mother I am.  A little bit crazy, a little bit juvenile, but oh so much fun, right?  Right.)
Levi loves to be smiled at!  He's a bit egocentric and especially loves his own smile.  He grins and coos and squeals.
It is sooo stinkin' cute!  I can't get enough.  
Then apparently Levi was hungry because he tried to eat my face.
These moments are what make life so very good.  

~Happy Friday!!!~

Snapshots and Life Lately

11.15.2012
Since this blog is my journal, I'm going to write down what we've been up to lately... because it's been a while. 


::  We're still at it, running that is.  Fortunately, the temperature has kept above freezing during the day which means I can still go on outdoor runs.  We don hats and jackets and I tuck my boys in nice and tight with a thick blanket or two.  If the wind is blowing, I pull down the nifty plastic protector.  Jed grabs some toys for the ride and Levi takes a nap.  The boys seem to enjoy getting some fresh air.  And so do I!  Plus, it's a fun social venture when we go running with my friend Amy and her two little girls.  We usually end up having lunch at one house or another.  But alas, my days of outdoor running are numbered.  I'm not looking forward to surrendering to the treadmill and some exercise videos.


::  Have I told you about our car?  It has nearly 200,000 miles on it.  It's really awesome (not).  It has no headlights and the fan comes on sporadically, which means I have heat/ac sporadically.  So that means two things 1. I have a curfew of 5PM.  I think Bron secretly likes the idea that I can't go shopping.  2. We're torn on whether to get it fixed or bite the bullet and buy a "new" car.  Ugh.

::  I woke Jed up from a late Sunday afternoon nap.  He groggily wandered into the den and climbed into Bron's lap.  I came in later to find both Bron and Jed fast asleep on the couch "watching" football.  Cutest thing ever.  I just love how Jed's legs are crossed!  

::  Levi is learning to use his hands!  It's so fun to watch him stare and concentrate then try to grab.  He's getting pretty good at it. 


::  We've had some exciting weekends.  One of Bron's best friends {since the beginning of time} and his family spent the night at our home one weekend.  We ate pizza, watched a movie, and stayed up till 2AM just catching up.  It was so good to see them!  It was also the first time we got to meet their baby boy, James, who is just 8 days older than Levi.

The weekend before that, we drove to Boise to meet Bron's best buddy from their undergrad.  Dusty is now finishing his Veterinarian degree and doing some clinicals in the area, so we had to meet up, of course!  So we dropped Jed off with my mom and met Dusty and his wife Hailey downtown.  We strolled to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner and then headed on over to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert.  I was stuffed!  But it all tasted sooo good.  Best of all, we didn't want the night to end.  We could have kept talking for hours more!

And yes, the Friday before that Amy and I were craving Carino's.  So we got last minute babysitters for the kids and THEN informed our husbands.  So a double date (+ Amy's cool sister who was in town) it was!  It was great to get out of the house and eat some good food and laugh a lot.

Don't let me fool you though.  Levi was not an angel on these nights out.  He screamed through half of each meal.  I think he's a bit of a homebody.  

I can't say it enough: I love these boys of mine!

I'd say we lead pretty darn good lives around here.  I'm looking forward to the Holidays!

Laundry

11.14.2012
Of all the chores there are to do, laundry is my absolute least favorite.  It is just so time consuming to fold all those pieces of clothing!  So laundry pretty much goes like this:

Monday: Separate and Wash
Tuesday: Let the dread of folding all those loads build.  I have better things to do!  
Wednesday: Give in and fold a few batches.  Let them sit all nicely folded on the couch or in the basket...overnight.
Sometimes, however, by some miraculous miracle, I fold and put it away in the same day.  Wow.  Other times...
Thursday: Put it away?  What?!?  I need to wash another load anyway.
Friday: This is embarrassing. Put it away.

So it's official: I am a laundry procrastinator.  Do they have AA meetings for this?  Because I obviously need help.  Maybe I should come up with a different system.  But this works for me.  For now.  I have a feeling I'm not the only one out there!

Brothers

11.12.2012
Jed likes to say, "Hi Baby!" and give his brother kisses.
Levi adores his big brother; I can see it in his eyes.
Despite the fighting I know they will do, I hope they become the best of friends.

Home Sweet Home: 1 Year Later

11.08.2012
A year ago this month we moved into our house.  Before moving here, I had always thought of the Twin Falls area as a rest stop: just a gas station and some food on a long trip between Idaho Falls and Boise.  Wow, was I wrong!  I am more than happy to say that this house has become our home.  I am so glad we chose this house in this area to plant some roots.  I can't say enough good things about it!

A peek into what we do everyday here at home.  I feel like I do this all day long: nurse and read books.  Usually I'm doing those two things simultaneously!  It's a good life though.

::  Our home has a simple layout, but I love it.  One level is great for keeping track of kiddos.  Plus, it has a lot of custom features that I like.  It's a really nice home.  I'm spoiled to stay at home and raise my family here.

::  We just had a heat pump installed.  A $400+ propane bill/month is sooo overrated.  Our home now sits at a comfortable 71* all day and all night.  That lovely heat pump brings me peace of mind; I know my babies are warm enough, especially while they sleep at night.  

::  The area itself is beautiful.  We have sunshine and wide open spaces.  We also have the South Hills chuck full of outdoor recreational things to do year round.

::  The winters are mild.  I can't stand ice and snow that lingers for weeks.  It makes me depressed.  Here, the snow and ice doesn't stick around for too long.  I love that.

::  We live in the best neighborhood ever!  We are surrounded by genuinely good people.  It is safe and clean and friendly. 

::  Both Bron and I have made friends in the neighborhood.  Bron goes bike riding with his buddies and I get together with some other moms on a regular basis.  We exercise together and get our kids together to play... almost daily.  Three of us even took a trip to Costco with our combined seven children.  We fed the kids free samples and actually had fun shopping.  Then we grabbed some hot 'n ready pizzas and let the kids run a muck at the park.  I can't express how nice it is to have friends!  These ladies help me and I help them.  It's also nice to see someone else with her hair in a ponytail and makeup-less too.  We're keeping it real over here. 

::  I could brag more about the parks and schools and our ward at church, but just know that I am in no hurry to move.  Like, ever.  I love our little corner of Idaho. 

 View of a sunset from our backyard taken with Bron's iphone.

Election Day

11.06.2012
It is sunny and 70* outside today.
A beautiful day for playing at the park and taking some time to vote.

Living in Idaho, it sometimes feels like my vote doesn't mean much.  After all, most of us are rooting for the same guy for president: Go Mitt!  But then I realized my vote does matter!  My vote counts and is especially important for local leaders and issues.  Levi cheered me on from the sidelines--or more accurately, from his view in his carseat on the floor. He knows the future of his education is in my hands.  I'm excited to see what happens next.

11.7.12
I'm feeling very deflated this morning; I'm disappointed with how the election turned out.  But I am grateful to live in a country with so many freedoms.  I'm grateful for my right to vote, to say and write what I want, and to believe what I want.  I have the right to make the best life for myself and my family through my own efforts.  That right there is amazing.  No, America isn't perfect.  There's a lot I'd like to see changed.  Nevertheless, I am still very blessed to live here.  My fellow Americans, let's come together to keep America great.

Our Baby at 3 Months

11.03.2012

A friend once gave me a really great quote and it has stuck with me ever since.

"Your children won't remember how clean your house was, but they will remember how much time you spent with them."

I really, really try my hardest to be a good mom to my two little boys.  I constantly have to remind myself that their little needs and perpetual little interruptions simply mean that I am loved and needed.  How much effort does it really take to stop what I'm doing and play cars with Jed for ten minutes?  I believe {or truly hope!} that a relationship with my boys can be built with just ten minutes of undivided attention several times a day.  Of course, a good hour or two of play happens too.  As hard as this early stage of motherhood is, I know I will miss it someday.   

For instance, the other day as I was folding laundry, Levi was getting tired of playing on the floor by himself.  So I left the laundry in a pile and joined my baby on the floor.  We smiled and "talked" and I tickled his tummy.  Then we read some books.  His whole body gets excited when we read books!  I'll never get those moments back.  They bring me so much joy as a mama. 


A few things about Levi at month 3:

:: Levi has discovered his hands.  He likes to suck on them and study them.  He even shoots both fists into the air and uses them to propel himself to his side: he's trying to learn to roll over!

:: Levi smiles and coos all day long.  He is one content and happy baby!  It makes my job so much easier.

:: Levi sleeps like a gem.  He sleeps a solid 6-8 hours every night!  HOWEVER, getting him to bed each night has been quite a challenge.  He has a bedtime routine and he falls asleep in my arms.  I quietly lay him down and he sleeps... for no more than a half hour!  So I nurse him and rock him and love him, but every time I lay him down again he screams.  After about 45 minutes of that (if I have that much determination), I give up and bring him into the den to hang out with me and Dad.  He sleeps like a rock in my arms and on my chest.  Finally, at around midnight I'm finally able to put him down and he stays down.  Whew!  That's when I at last get to go to sleep--and that's the only sleep I ever get these days.

I guess I secretly love these long late night hours of holding my baby.  As a second time mom, I don't freak out so much anymore.  I know this stage won't last forever and that he will eventually "get it".  With that said, I think it's time to try a new tactic. 

::  Fact: Levi's cheeks beg to be smooched a gazillion times a day.  And I oblige.  Levi has stolen my heart!  I love him so, so, much!!!

The Sweetest Night of the Year

11.01.2012
We had a very excited dragon at our house!
Jed refused to wear the hood I made, but it was just as well.  It was 65*!
See the full costume from last year HERE

We were eating dinner when the first two spooks of the evening knocked on our door.  Bron brought out the bowl of candy and gave them each a few pieces.  Then he turned to Jed and said, "See?  They're wearing costumes and they get candy!"

That's when it clicked.

Jed raced across the house and couldn't get on his costume fast enough.  He was sooo excited!!!  He was all smiles.  So we left dinner on the table and all hurried to get ready.  Our first stop was the neighbor's house, of course.

They did open the door and Jed was showered with candy!

Then we hit up the Trunk-or-Treat at the park followed by another Trunk-or-Treat at the church just two blocks away.  Jed held my hand and excitedly smiled up at me over and over.  He even did a few jumps.  Jed loved just being able to lift up his pumpkin bucket and have it filled with pieces of candy.  How cool!  He even said so himself.  Jed was so cute he worked the system and was able to do a little double dipping.  Then we finished by visiting a few houses in our neighborhood before calling it a night.  


This was the first year that Jed actually understood the concept of Trick-or-Treating.  I haven't had that much fun with Jed in a long time!  I don't know what it is about Halloween, but I get overly excited and giddy--just like a kid.  I want to run from house to house !  But then I remember that I'm an adult; I can buy all the candy I want.  So just what is it that makes me so excited?  Halloween (just like Christmas) is magical somehow.  And now I get to share that excitement with my children... and give Jed a couple pieces of candy everyday from now until February.  Tonight was kind of a special night for me.  I'll never forget the looks of pure delight on his face.  Jed's happiness makes me happy.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!