Giving Thanks

11.26.2013
I couldn't let Thanksgiving pass by without taking a little time to reflect on my blessings.

via

For some reason, this little quote pricked my heart this year.  I live a life full of dreams come true.  I'm also grateful for a man who likes to remind me of just how spoiled rotten I am every day.  It helps me to look for the good in my life, to recognize what a great privilege it is to be Bron's wife and a mama to our two little boys.  Those three people were once among the things I only hoped for.  And I love them with all my heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Bring on the family, the laughter, the memories, the shopping, and especially the gluttony!
Mmmm... stuffing and pie... get in my belly. 

This Weekend Hit the Spot

11.25.2013




We love the weekends!  They're two full days we get to spend together as a family.  We didn't do anything super special this weekend, and yet, it hit the spot for relaxation and fun.

Saturday night was date night with my man!  Bron and I met three other couples at Jaker's to celebrate our friend Amy's birthday.  She practically glowed.  We had so much fun!  There was never a dull moment of conversation and the food, as always, was over-the-top delicious.  We nearly had to roll ourselves out of there!  Jaker's with friends sure is a special treat.

Then Sunday evening we played a spirited game of Hide-and-Go-Seek as a family of four.  If you ever want to feel stealthy, hide from a three year old.  Jed checked one corner of the closet twice but never turned around to spy Bron standing in the opposite corner!  It was a hoot!  There were so many moments when we just couldn't keep from laughing out loud.   

This stage of life we're in now, it's pretty good.

Snapshots of Life Lately: Overheard, A Day in the Life

11.20.2013
^^Sometimes the boys are cold in the mornings, so they like to eat breakfast with blankets draped around their shoulders.^^
 ^^Crazy coming through!  If this face doesn't make your day, I don't know what will!^^
^^Mr. Piggy.  He is always hungry and raiding my pantry.  I finally started setting out a little bowl full of cheerios, raisins, etc. for him to snack on throughout the day.^^
^^Washing himself in the bath and drinking from the faucet.  Two very classic bath time things to do, but made extra cute by this fifteen month old.^^
^^Coloring while I make dinner.  I love Jed's look of concentration.^^
^^One of Jed's favorite toys right now is his stick horse.  It even has a place to sleep in his bed.^^

As we sat together in the quiet one evening after the boys had gone to bed, I began telling Bron about my day.  He couldn't help laughing out loud, and in turn, it made me laugh out loud too!  So let's pretend you're a spider on our wall (because all the flies are dead this time of year.  Hurrah!) listening to bits and pieces of our conversation about a silly day in the life inside the Nelson home.
 
*****
 
"Levi doesn't seem to empty the pantry like Jed used to," Bron observed.
"Ohh, no.  He's worse!  Levi empties entire boxes of cereal all over the floor. So if you wind up with hair or rocks in your cereal..."

"Levi was upset with me so he tried biting my leg."

I explained, "Levi is no longer afraid of the vacuum cleaner.  Instead, he wants to turn it on with his foot all by himself.  And then Jed takes the attachments and uses them as swords.  So the boys sword fight while I vacuum.  It's a good deal until I have to tell Jed, 'You need to hit your brother softly!'  I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth...... Then they both wanted to help me put the vacuum cleaner away.  Jed put the attachments back and Levi screamed.  So I let Levi have a turn and then Jed screamed.  I finally put the vacuum cleaner away with Levi screaming about it.  He was screaming about the vacuum cleaner!"  We had a hardy laugh over that.

"Levi flings things from any drawer under three feet!  Seriously, across the room.  And he dragged the lamp into the bathroom.  If I want to take a shower or get ready while he's awake, I have to plan on cleaning up too," I complained.  "Oh, and my hairbrush went for a swim in the toilet last week."

"Na, na, na, na!  Come and get me!" I imitated Jed.
"Jed is so stinkin' fast running around the couch!" Bron admired.
"I've figured it out.  You have to take tiny fast steps.  That's the only way to keep up."

*****

So that's my life in a nutshell.  Someone put a tent over this circus!  I'm learning to embrace the craziness.  I love my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Weekend Notes

11.18.2013
Thanks for all the responses and support to my last post.  Wow!  It's so nice to know I'm not alone in my struggles to maintain a balanced life; it's pretty universal, I think.  I feel I could write a five page essay on the pros and cons of social media.  I'm a little sorry I didn't concentrate more on how amazing it is to keep in touch with family and friends who live hundreds and thousands of miles away instantly.  I'm very thankful for it.  I just felt I needed to get a few of my thoughts and frustrations out in the open.  Shanley echoed my thoughts exactly when she commented that technology is a unique challenge presented to our generation.  I kind of feel like we're pioneers, embarking into uncharted social media territory and learning from our mistakes along the way.  It's pretty cool.  So let's make these interwebs a place for friendship, community, and support, shall we?  There's so much potential here.

Anyway, moving on...

 ^^This is what happens when Levi thinks I'm not feeding him enough.  After watching the Croods, all we can say is, "Release the baby!"^^

We enjoyed a delightful slow and relaxing weekend at home.  Bron arrived home from work Friday evening with two Redbox movies in hand.  We watched the Croods as a family (Totally worth seeing!  We laughed pretty hard.) and then headed out to Idaho Pizza around 7PM for their all-you-can-eat buffet.  I love it when Bron spoils me like that.  And I'm happy we found another kid-friendly place to eat!  Jed begged to "drive the car" in the little arcade.  So after dinner I dug fifty cents from my wallet and Bron helped push the "gas".  Jed went nuts.  I have never seen him so excited and wired at the same time!  Bron and I busted up laughing in the parking lot.  Wow.  I sure love my boys.


We spent Saturday evening at our church harvest dinner.  No sooner had we arrived when Levi wet through his pants and I didn't bring an extra pair of bottoms.  Oooops!  Bad mommy moment.  So he became the pants-less blur and the life of the party (well, at least on our end of the gym).  The perks of still being a baby!


And Sunday night Bron and I laid awake in bed talking and laughing about how crazy our boys are!  Really, there is never a dull or quiet moment around here.  (Unless they are sleeping.  Hallelujah!)  And there are always toys strewn across the house, even though we picked up five minutes prior.  Jed and Levi are definitely brothers.  They're similar in many ways.  Yet, it surprises me how different they are too!  I love them both with all my heart--for many of the same reasons and for many individually unique reasons too.

It was a good weekend.

Balance

11.15.2013
^^Our littlest stud in his Sunday best^^

Many of my efforts lately have been focused on achieving balance.

I feel like I have made great strides towards balance in my personal life over the last few months.  I feel like my little boys are getting enough attention, the house is clean enough, and most importantly, my main squeeze, Bron, is feeling the love.  On top of all that, I'm also able to spend a few hours each week exercising and dabbling in my favorite hobbies.  It's a Christmas miracle!

I think balance is meant to be one of life's great challenges.  I've accepted that I simply cannot do it all, and give all 100%.  But I do feel that I am enough.  There is always room for improvement, but my marriage is a happy one and I'm in a good place... for now.  (Things just seem to change so fast!) 

Every morning I choose four or five things from my never ending to-do list to accomplish and call it a good day, even if all five things aren't technically checked off by the time I crawl into bed.  For me, it's about keeping a loose routine and prioritizing.  Items number four and five can usually wait until tomorrow if need be. 

And since there will always be work to do, I figure there is always time to play too.  Babies don't keep.  Jed won't always beg, "Play with me, Mom!  .....  Ride da hor(se) with me, Mom!"  I know I'll miss that innocent little voice.  I'm already dreading the day he heads off to first grade, gone from 7AM till 4PM, and feeling like I barely got to see him.

So that's my simple life in a nutshell.  I'm just trying to make the most of every day.

^^Try keeping your balance in these suave cowboy boots!  To someone as short as Levi, the heel must feel at least five inches tall.^^
But now, let's talk about balance in social media for a minute, shall we?

Social media is wonderful.  It's addicting.  And it's downright dumb.  I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  My feelings are bipolar, really.

Does social media ever feel like a popularity contest to you?  Your self worth based on how many "likes" or "comments" you get on a particular post?  Or even how many "followers" you have?  It's utterly ridiculous! 

And even though I know it is utterly ridiculous, I still feel myself getting caught up in the awful clutches of this social media popularity contest.  Yes, I want to be heard and my opinions validated by others, but just exactly who are those other people?  Do I know them personally?  If I do, do we talk on the phone or see each other in person weekly or even monthly?  And why do I feel obligated to "like" or comment on other peoples' profiles so often?

Honestly, it's the real-life flesh and blood relationships that I value most.  Those are the relationships that make me feel the most whole--a valued person--not just another face with some words attached underneath.  (Though I do realize that some real relationships can start with emails!  There are actually a few bloggers out there I'd love to meet face to face one day.)

So I've been taking strides to distance myself from social media a bit.  It's ironic that being so "connected" actually makes me feel isolated sometimes!  Social media is also often a fruitless time hog anyway.  So I've cleaned up the list of blogs I follow.  I took Facebook off my phone and I try not to check my phone every time I pass it in the kitchen.  I've become notorious for leaving my phone behind in the house or the car when I take the boys outside to play or visit a neighbor.  And contrary to what this blog may lead you to believe, I do not pick up my dslr every single day. 

Not every moment needs to be documented.  Not every thought in my head needs to be posted.

Which leads me to some thoughts about this here blog.  I've thought long and hard about why I blog and for whom I write.  I write with my friend, Anna, and other friends from New York in mind.  I write thinking that my dad and mom and other family members will read this.  I write in hopes that other mothers much like me might be able to relate a little bit.  But first and foremost, I write this blog for me.  This blog is a creative outlet for me.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy photography.  A blog is a wonderful combination of the two.  But this blog is also our family journal.  I had a second 350 page volume of this blog printed and I cannot wait to see it.  These memories with the people I love most all documented and bound together means the world to me.  I hope it means something to them too.  And so, as tempting as it might be to cater to a larger audience in order to gain more "followers" (I probably wouldn't be successful anyway), I have made the decision to stay true to the original purpose of this blog.  It's crazy I even doubted myself in the first place!

Balance.  Balance.  Balance.  Too much of one thing, not enough of another.  It's a tough thing and I sometimes struggle with it.  I've fallen off the proverbial horse--and I'll continue to fall off over and over--but you bet I'll get up again every single time.

Levi at 15 Months

11.13.2013
 
The months surrounding the one year mark have got to be some of my all-time favorite.  Levi is just so stinkin' darling!  I think I die of cuteness overload a hundred times over every day just watching the way he smiles, talks, and toddles around the house.  And ohhh, those cheeks!  I can't quit smooching them.  Levi is still definitely my baby.
 

So in honor of his fifteen months of life, let me tell you a little about our cute little man.
(Note: This is purely for my own documentation.)
 
:: Levi is the happiest and most smiley child ever to grace the earth.  Really, he cheeses it up all. day. long.  He even performs for the camera!  I'm such a proud mama.
 
:: Levi has been taking steps for a few months, but didn't really start walking till he was a little over 14 months old.  I think Levi would have walked sooner if it weren't for his big brother knocking him down all the time!  (Really, my patience rubs raw when Jed does that over and over.)
 
 :: Levi is so smart!  It's fun to see how much he really understands.  Whenever I say "bath", he books his chubby little legs to the bathroom chanting, "Baa!  Baa!  Baa!"  And whenever I say it's time to brush his teeth, he takes off excitedly exclaiming, "Tee!  Tee!  Tee!"  He loves baths and he loves his teeth brushed. 
 
:: Levi's 7th tooth is making its appearance
 
:: He is a bottomless pit.  The kid eats and eats and eats and eats!  Among his favorite foods are bananas and raspberries and cottage cheese.
 
   
::  All animals are known as "Tyke". 

:: I cannot get enough of his long lashes, pudgy little fingers, or round tummy.  Every physical attribute about him is just the cutest.

:: Most prominent talent: emptying every drawer under three feet high

:: Strokes my hair for comfort
 
:: Though we cut his hair, I am thrilled to say that it still holds a curl!  Those little curls make me so very happy.
 
:: I love how he holds his hands in the air in question, "Where?"  Or how he holds them awkwardly straight out in front when he wants something, like the dog to lick him.
 
:: His favorite word is "Daddy".  He says it for almost everything.  But he gets truly excited when Bron comes through the door in the evening.  Levi waddles as fast as he can squealing, "Daddee!  Daddee!" and won't stop even after Bron picks him up.
 
:: I suspect an extremely stubborn and temperamental two year old is waiting to greet us in just a few short months.  When Levi doesn't get his way, he tends to throw a fit by howling and smacking his forehead against the ground.  However, if it's Jed he's ticked with, Levi tends to bite.  Uh-oh!
 
 
:: Levi has never been as good a sleeper as Jed.  He knows how to put himself back to sleep, but often wakes in the middle of the night screaming.  If it continues on for a while, I pull my groggy self out of bed to check on him.  Is he awake or not?  I can't always tell.  So I change his diaper, get him a drink of milk, and hold him for 10-20 minutes before sticking him back into his crib.  Then he sometimes screams some more.  For the sake of my own sanity, I have become a cry-it-out method kind of mom.  He's over a year old, all of his basic needs have been met, and it's dark outside: It is time to sleep.  I sometimes wonder if he'd do better co-sleeping.  But since that just wouldn't work for me, I've considered moving him into Jed's room.  I just don't know! 
 
:: Levi copies his big brother.  I've been teaching Jed how to wash his hair and body.  Levi pretends to push the soap dispenser and then rubs his hair or belly too with his uncoordinated little hands.  So, so cute! 
 
:: Our little maestro has a love for the piano.  He pulls himself up onto the bench and pounds away on the keys several times a day.  The kid has rhythm too.  He bounces and smiles whenever I turn on the music.  I hope he develops some musical talent like his mama.
 
::Lullabies never seemed to work for Jed, but whenever I sing to Levi he immediately calms down and rests his head on my shoulder.  I've been singing, "You are My Sunshine" every night.  That song couldn't be any truer!  Levi is my little ray of sunshine and I'd be heartbroken without him.


I love you so much, Little Man!

^^This video taken one morning when Levi woke up and couldn't find his favorite person.^^

5 Quick Takes

11.11.2013
1. When Bron arrived home Friday evening and asked what was for dinner, I simply told him, "Amy's leftovers".  He gave me a puzzled look and laughed because he knew I was serious!  My neighbor Amy called me on the phone that morning and asked if I'd like her dinner leftovers from the night before.  She and her family were leaving for the weekend and she didn't know if they would last.  Um... delicious free food?  Okay!  I graciously agreed to take them off her hands. 

So I zipped up my jacket and called over my shoulder to Bron that I'd be back in ten minutes.  Indeed, ten minutes later I waltzed back through the door with a container full of food, stuck it in the oven to warm, set the table, and voila!  Dinner was served.  It was easier and better than take-out.  I think we should totally set-up a neighborhood leftovers exchange or something.  It would be brilliant.

2. That same friend Amy invited me to go "grocery shopping" with her late Friday evening.  In other words, it was a spontaneous last minute girls' night out.  It felt so liberating!  We turned up the music and headed to the food court at Costco first.  Then we oohed and ahhed over the mountains of toys there like a pair of five year old kids.  Christmas is coming and it is going to be sooo hard not to spoil our children.  After closing down Costco, we wandered aimlessly through Target until they kicked us out too.  Then, and only then, did we head to the grocery store where we spent a grand total of fifteen minutes (because really, what's there to gawk at in the grocery store?) before finally heading home.  It was so much fun! 


3. I had a proud mama moment Saturday morning when Levi joined us in folding his arms for prayer.  Those little folded hands are so darn cute!

4. If I am doing one and only one thing right as a mother, it is reading the scriptures to my boys at the breakfast table.  It may be just a few verses at a time, but I am impressed with how much Jed is absorbing and comprehending.  Reading about Jesus from the book of Matthew has spurred on conversations I never thought I'd share with a three year old.  Sure, he thinks Peter wears green and can fly (Peter Pan), but he's also asked about "the signs of the times" and the priesthood.  It is so neat for me to explain these things to him and watch him light up with understanding and excitement!  Little children are so eager to learn and reading the scriptures (almost) every morning gives me an opportunity to teach.  I am so grateful for this blessing and responsibility of motherhood.  It is unlike anything I have ever done and my heart is full.

5. I had three photography gigues this weekend: two families and one newborn.  I couldn't wait to see what the second family had in store for me Sunday afternoon and I haven't quit laughing since.  Have you ever seen those awkward family photos on the web?  Well, this was a re-enactment in an effort to win a family contest.  I hope they win!  Hint: Those girls are not girls at all.  These pictures are blackmail material at its finest.  I'm not done holding my sides and rolling on the floor.


{Happy Monday!}

Snapshots of Life Lately

11.06.2013
Just because I take waaay too many pictures and I'm still trying to figure out Lightroom.  But mostly because I enjoy looking back through this series of posts and seeing how much our routine has changed and how much my boys have grown.
 
Here's to the simple everyday goodness in our lives!

 ^^Miniature Maestro loves to play the piano.  He climbs onto the bench by himself.^^
 ^^Apparently my boys don't have enough toys; they used my kitchen utensils for entertainment one day.^^
^^As much as I'd love to play board games with this munchkin, the concept is still lost on him.  He gets bored and would rather just use his imagination.^^
^^Boys + Sand + Trucks = A Good Time^^
^^View of our backyard before most of the leaves fell.  So pretty.^^
 ^^Eating ice cream cones outside on October 22nd.  It was so warm and beautiful that week!  But then again, I'm of the opinion that it's never really too cold for ice cream.^^
^^Brothers.  It's like they're magnets.  Wrestling is what they do best.^^
^^No matter how old, he'll always be my baby.  And yeah, he still totally naps.  Lucky mama.^^
^^A rare quiet moment: reading books while I folded the laundry.^^

Two Things:

1.  I am happy to say that my dad does NOT have cancer.  Thanks for giving us all a good scare, Dad!  Not really.  I'm just thankful that we'll still have him around for a good number of years.  Very thankful.

2.  My brother, Joe, just announced that he is officially engaged to his Hungarian girlfriend, Karmen!  I'm anxious to meet her in the flesh, rather than over Skype.  Congratulations, Joe and Karmen!  Wishing you all the happiness in the world.   

Hello November

11.03.2013
^^Sun Valley = Idaho Eye Candy^^

Bron and I kicked off the weekend right with a date night to dinner and the temple.  Then first thing Saturday morning we loaded the kids in the car to go spend the day thrifting ski gear from the Rich in the quaint and beautiful town of Sun Valley.  The red brick buildings coupled with mountains dusted in snow is candy for the eyes.  And yes, we scored!  We are now the proud owners of a new to us pair of powder skis, warm hardly worn boots for me, two sets of poles, goggles, and a vintage sweater all for a whopping $123.  It was a lot of fun.  Everywhere I turned, folks were commenting on how darling Levi was in his little monster hat or how handsome both my boys are.  It was a pleasant change from the norm that made me feel good. 

We ate a lunch of fresh made-to-order sandwiches and corn dogs from the grocery deli before heading up further into the mountains.  Bron wanted to show me Galena, a point near the top of the mountain and the mouth of the Wood River.  The view was stunning.  And the snow hanging from the bows of every pine made me a little giddy for Christmas.  These magical weeks between Halloween and Christmas are always some of my favorite each year.

The only negative thing I have to report about the weekend is that we have all caught nasty colds.  Levi felt so puny Saturday night.  (Read: For about ten minutes there we were both soaked in vomit.)  But it's always nice to snuggle him skin to skin in a hot steamy shower.  One year old is still so little.

We hope your weekend was just as good!


Halloween 2013

11.01.2013
 
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays and now that I have little kids, that fun has multiplied ten fold! 
 
Jed totally anticipated Halloween this year.  His excitement was contagious... or wait, was that my excitement rubbing off on him?  Either way, we were counting down the days together.  I was surprised how fast Levi caught on though.  Last night when I brought out the plastic pumpkin bucket, Levi began chanting, "Canny!  Canny!  Canny!"  (I think he made the connection between the blue plastic bucket I keep in the pantry full of *cough* Easter candy and the orange pumpkin.)
 
Anyhow, to protect my little spooks from the cold, I layered the boys in their pajamas, then a second layer, and finally their outer jackets.  They looked ten pounds chubbier than they really are!  Come to find out, it wasn't that cold outside.  Oh well.  That's just how their overprotective mama shows her love.
 
We started our festivities by visiting our neighbors.  Then we moved the party to the church parking lot for their annual Trunk-or-Treat and Halloween Carnival.  It was a success for both boys.  Jed fisted two lollipops at once all evening long while Levi happily stickied himself from mouth to toe.  They were wild untamed creatures by the time we arrived home, but that's exactly as it should be, I think.  This holiday is for them.  The opportunity to be whatever they want to be plus free candy?  I want to be a kid again too.

 ^^I loved that our little parrot could walk this year!  Sooo much fun!^
^^I dressed as the iconic American Rosie the Riveter, but in heels, of course.  I sure love my two little spooks!^^
^^Bron enjoys watching our boys light up with excitement too.^^
 ^^Jed approached each car without reservation this year.  He mastered the two phrases that got him candy: "Trick-or-Tree" and "Fank you!"
 ^^That's my boy!  Two at a time!^^
^^The whole neighborhood.  These kids are going to grow up together.^^
In case you're wondering, those are Cinderella's three little mice: Jaq, Suzy, and Gus Gus.  Hilariously clever!
 
Happy Halloween!
We hope you had a fun and safe night too.
 
I think we just kicked off the Holiday season on the right foot.  Bring it on!