Spring Break in St. George: Zion's

4.29.2014

Ta-da!  I am finally getting around to posting the third and last part of our Spring Break adventure.  (Parts one and two can be found HERE and HERE).  April has been the busiest month I have ever experienced since probably... well, maybe college.  It's just been nuts!  But it's been a good busy.  I feel like I'm finally coming up to catch some air now.  So is it too late to be posting about something that happened a month ago?  I obviously don't think so because I love re-living fun vacations and memories.  Plus, the eye candy on this one is too good to pass up!  Zion's is definitely one of my favorite places to visit on earth.

The day we spent at Zion's National Park was actually cloudy and rainy (I didn't come prepared for that!), but we didn't let a little weather stop us from exploring as much as we could.  We started by hiking Hidden Canyon.  I couldn't believe the trail we hiked--part of it was just a few feet wide on a cliff's edge a couple hundred feet up!  Though there were chains to hold on to, it was still a bit freaky.  But it was exhilarating and thrilling and awesome all the same!  At the top, we followed this beautiful little slot canyon a mile or so in.  Very fun. 

^^Hold on tight, Bron!  Don't fall off!  These pictures don't do the cliff edge justice at all.^^
 
Then we conquered the easy Emerald Pools hike.  I couldn't get over how stunning the contrast was between the new bright green leaves and the rich red rock! 
 
Then, because we I was damp and freezing and tired, we drove around the park with the heat turned on full blast.  We drove through a tunnel!  I'm glad I chose not to hold my breath and make a wish because I would have passed out, it was that long.  Finally, the guys lured Amy and I out of the warm truck with promises about a very short hike and a stunning view from the Canyon Overlook Trail.  I'm sure glad we went up there.  The view was dazzling!  It just happened to be sunset behind Zion's beautiful red cliffs.  We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending to our day!  

^^A little romance up on top of the world^^

How We Celebrated Jed's 4th Birthday

4.28.2014
 ^^The expression on Jed's face as we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  He was sooo excited!  Truly priceless.^^

I wish I felt as enthusiastic about birthdays these days as my children do.  Jed was busting at the seams the morning his fourth birthday arrived!  There were balloons and streamers, but best of all, Grandma Nelson came to visit and celebrate. 

We began Jed's special day with a shopping trip in town.  While we women went practically hog-wild trying on cute new shirts and picking out fun decorative items for the house, Jed was over-the-moon happy to pick out his very own toy with the $10 in birthday money Great Grandma Smith sent.  Then, as promised, we visited the infamous "candy store" (aka The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) where Grandma Nelson treated Jed to his very own caramel apple.  Lucky kid.  Jed was sure feeling special.  He had been looking forward to that trip to the candy store for weeks!

Finally, after hours of anticipation, Jed's little friends arrived at the front door late in the afternoon for a PARTY!  We didn't do an over-the-top pinterest style party around here (at least not this year).  Instead, we opted for simple and sweet because I knew Jed would be happy regardless.  All he was expecting was a cake, some presents, and a handful of friends to help celebrate.  And that is exactly what happened: a stress free get-together with friends topped off with the best peanut-butter brownie cake ever tasted!  We even got our dancing groove on to tunes on the antique player piano.  It was a fourth birthday success!

Happy 4th Birthday, Jed!  You sure are a very loved little boy.  I think we'll keep you... forever.

^^Showing off his giant birthday caramel apple that he lovingly shared with Levi and me^^
 ^^Jed hasn't quit playing with his new toys since he opened them.  They even sleep with him!^^
^^The short-stuff dance party!^^

Happy Fourth Birthday, Jed!

4.25.2014


Dear Jed,

Happy four years on planet earth!  Four years ago you made me a mama, Jed.  I will forever be grateful for that.  The moment you were placed in my arms, I felt an overwhelming love for you.  There you were: my baby!  You were my dream since I was a very little girl and suddenly that dream was real!  I couldn't have been happier... or more scared.  Taking you on--this tiny bundle of needs and responsibility--was a huge step in my life.  But I wanted it; I wanted YOU.  And now, just four short years later, I hardly remember what my life was like before that special April day; it's like I've always been your mother.

We've had a good year, Jed.  Three was such a fun age!  However, I've heard four is magical.

Jed, you are such a delight to have in our family.  You always wake up happy, ready to take on the new day with enthusiasm.  For example, you walk BACKWARDS from the parking lot all the way to your preschool classroom every. single. day.  It's painfully slow, but I can't help a smile from creeping across my face.  You seem to like preschool a lot.  Preschool has suddenly brought out your inner virtuoso, singing your lungs out to tunes like Row, Row, Row Your Boat and I Am a Child of God.

You're silly, Jed.  You enjoy making everyone around you smile and laugh.  At times, it seems like you and Levi have a contest to see who can act sillier and the laughing just escalates into hysterics.  Jed, I can already tell that you will be the peacemaker in our family.  You're very aware of how people around you are feeling and you often step in with a hug or a kind word... or a joke.

Have I mentioned that you have discovered potty humor?  Yes, you and Levi screamed, "Poopy!  Poopy!  Pooooopy!" and laughed till you cried while swinging at the park last week.  True story.  I had a hard time keeping a straight face; I'm the mom and I'm not supposed to think stunts like that are funny!  (Even though they totally are.)

It's also been so much fun watching your imagination develop even further this year.  You have a healthy imagination.  I know because you are attached to your toys.  You love to dress up in your cowboy hat and ride that old stick horse around the house.  Just the other day, we pretended to shoot cannonballs at each other in the backyard until I insisted that I had exploded into a million pieces and that it was time for lunch.  And you often pretend to be a monster and bite off my legs, that is, if I don't tickle you first.  You're a ton of fun.

Jed, I'm sorry, but you have inherited your mother's need for routine.  You are very much a creature of habit.  If your dad or I forget to brush your teeth before bed, you will come into our room at 2:00AM crying about how we forgot.  It's really funny, actually.

Other talents and interests of yours include running.  Jed, you can run like the wind!  You'd rather run than learn to ride a bike because you think you're faster on your feet.  You're addicted to cartoons and beg to watch them daily, but you don't care for candy very much.  I mean, you'll scarf a handful of candy down in less than a minute, but if you don't see it you won't ask for it.  It's really nice.  You're also quite helpful.  You like helping me do chores around the house.  You especially like putting the piles of laundry away where they belong.  Your helping often makes more of a mess, but I don't like to cramp your style. 

Lastly, my favorite part of each day with you comes towards the very end.  You still love to read books and insist on "cuddling" with me as we read a bedtime story each night.  I look forward to those quiet minutes with you tucked under my arm.  Then you give me a sweet kiss on the cheek.  Sometimes I wish you'd never grow up. 

I cherish every precious moment I have with you, Jed!  You make me so happy.  I love you.

Love Always,

Mama 

4 Months Old
Chillin' with the bovine ladies on Miner Farm

Our Easter Weekend 2014

4.21.2014
We enjoyed a mostly fantastic low-key Easter weekend here at HOME as a FAMILY.  Between my trip to California, Bron's work trip to Montana, violin rehearsals, and just busy life in general, I don't think all four of us were ever home in the evenings together for nearly two weeks!  That's a long time.  It was good to finally glean some quality family time together again.
 
We began our annual Easter festivities early Saturday morning with an egg hunt at the golf course.  Since Jed is nearly four, he got to participate with the "big" kids this year.  And it's a good thing, too!  That kid loves to run.  He scooped up his dozen plastic eggs in record time, all while having the time of his life.  Jed is so fast these days that I have a hard time getting a picture of him.  I should just call him "The Blur".  And although Levi didn't run, he knew exactly what to do too.  Don't mess with that kid and his candy!  We love this particular Easter egg hunt because it's small, including just the local neighborhoods.  We got to catch up with many of our friends and their kids too!


Saturday afternoon we went to work on the yard.  I went through some trouble to lock Levi safely in the front courtyard while Bron mowed the lawn.  Levi was mad at me, even after I distracted him with some jelly beans!  Not three minutes later, Levi tromped through the house and escaped through the back door.  Smart kid.  I didn't know whether to scream or high-five him!  Both Jed and Levi insist on "helping" Bron mow the lawn.  They call it a tractor.  (Oh, my!  We need to get these kids on some real equipment next time we visit Grandpa's farm.)  But I still think it will be a very long time until Bron no longer has two little helpers each time he goes out to mow.  Dad and his lawn mower are super cool, you know.


Then... we turned on the sprinklers.  Both boys were sopping wet within minutes.  I can't say it enough: I love having two crazy little boys!

 
On Easter morning, the little boys woke up to some surprises.  (Yes, they are wearing their Christmas jammies.  Haha)  Though I don't think it will happen every year, the Easter Bunny brought Jed and Levi handsome new suits to wear to church.  He also brought two buckets full of sand toys for the lake this summer too.
 
 
Ready for church!  When we're all this good-looking at once, it deserves to be documented.  These three handsome studs make my heart melt.  I love them sooo much!  Sometimes I can't believe that I get to call them mine forever.  I'm a lucky girl.
 
 
Finally, last but not least, I participated in our town's Easter Cantata for the third year in a row.  I love having an excuse to dress up in my fancy concert black and play my violin.  Plus, having the opportunity to reflect on my Savior during this special season is an added bonus.  I am so very thankful to my elder brother, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed so that I can be forgiven of my shortcomings, who made it possible for me to live with Him and my family again someday--no matter what life throws my way!  It really is nothing short of a miracle. 
 
 
Happy Easter!

And the Winner Is...

4.18.2014
Dun, dun, dun...
 
Shanley!
 
Congratulations!  I know it's a small thing, but it's still fun to win, right?  Shanley, please email me at jnelsonfamily07@gmail.com with your mailing address so I can get those Little Golden Books shipped out to you. 
 
Also, a big warm thank you to all of you who read this funny little blog.  I know I shouldn't fish for compliments, but it was so fun reading every single one of your sweet comments on this post.  Each one put a smile on my face.  Just know that I equally love checking in on your blogs as well... or even better, chatting in person!

2 Weddings, 2 States, 1 Weekend

4.16.2014

How do I explain what life has been like over the last week?  Crazy.  Busy.  Fun.  Exciting.  Wonderful.  I got to see all three sides of my family--the Smiths, the Nelsons, and the Wades--within just a few days' time.  It was family overload in the best sense and I loved every minute of it.  In fact, as I reflected on all our individual idiosyncrasies and dysfunctional-ness, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of love for my family.  This is our one real, imperfect but beautiful life, and we're meant to stick together.

Here's what went down...

Wednesday:  The two little boys and I drove to my Aunt's house in Utah.  Although my Aunt Mari feels like she is the worst hostess ever, we always feel welcome in her home.  So thanks for letting us eat all your cereal and make a mess in your basement, Mari.  The boys just think you're the absolute coolest, and I can't help agreeing.  Wednesday evening, my cousin Emma and I went out to the lake to take her high school senior pictures.  I love photographing seniors.  That cool cat busted out some Irish dance moves on the dock!  We had a lot of fun together.

 ^^Look at that air and those pointed toes!  A beautiful girl with a lot of talent.^^

Thursday:  I couldn't have begged for better weather all weekend long.  I took my boys to the neighborhood park in the morning where Jed and I had a little water fight with his water bottle.  Hehe  Then my cousin, Necia, traveled from Salt Lake City just so I could take baby Alana's newborn pictures.  Between those fat cheeks and those tiny kitten cries, I couldn't get enough of Alana.  She was beautiful.  I just hope I did her pictures justice!  I happened to leave every scrap of my newborn props and blankets at home.  Luckily, 'ol Wally World helped me out a little.  It felt really good just to sit and chat with Necia.  She is the sweetest mama.  After Necia left, I took the boys swimming for a couple hours.  Hot spring pool in April?  Yes, please!  Finally, my Aunt Mari babysat my boys that evening so I could meet up with Bron for his cousin Rylee's rehearsal dinner.  Mmmm!  Delicious Chinese food and familiar family conversation was just the ticket that night.

^^Who needs props with a baby that looks as sweet as that?^^

Friday:  Wedding Day at Temple Square!  Bron and I joined the throngs of family and friends in the Salt Lake Temple for Rylee and Jeremy's wedding.  Rylee glowed.  She just emanated happiness.  And her new husband Jeremy is a sweet stud.  However, by the time we got out of the temple, Jed and Levi were tired and hungry and falling apart.  Wedding days are tough on little people.  So Bron and I did the best we could for a few hours before he headed home with the little boys and I hopped on an airplane bound for southern California!

  ^^Jed and Levi turned heads all day long with these handsome outfits!^^
 ^^As good as a family picture gets these days.  Haha.  But I sure love all three of my boys.^^

Saturday:  Wedding Bells in Laguna Hills!  My little brother, Joe, married his Hungarian fiancĂ© Karmen.  It was an intimate, simple and sweet ceremony.  I couldn't help be touched as I watched both Joe and Karmen's eyes water as they said their vows.  They invited just a small wedding party of close family and friends.  We took some pictures at the beach and then headed to a beautiful home overlooking the ocean for a delicious Hungarian dinner.  Karmen is superwoman.  I can't believe she cooked on her wedding day!  It was a delicious meal.  I am so happy for my brother.  Karmen is a beautiful bride and seems to be just the partner Joe needs.  They are so obviously head-over-heels in love.

^^My brother Joe and his bride Karmen^^

Sunday:  Sunday was a much needed day of rest and relaxation... and fun!  I stayed at my dad's house over the weekend and really enjoyed getting to know my stepmom, Liz, a lot better.  How can anyone not love that little spitfire?  She's awesome!  After brunch Sunday morning, my dad and I took his 16 foot dingy out in the bay (just don't ask me which bay!).  He let me drive.  We talked and admired all the other boats and houses... until we came to the open ocean.  I cannot describe to you how much I LOVE the open ocean.  It's like it's a part of me; deep down something feels complete when I can see nothing but water to the horizon, breathing in the salty air and feeling the wind on my face.  I guess the ocean poses endless possibilities for adventure and exploration.  It makes me excited.  So I throttled the engine and scared myself as we crashed over the waves!  It feels so exposed to be on such a small boat!  Thanks for taking me out, Dad.  I'm glad you've shared your passion for the ocean with me since I was a little girl.  It means the world.  Finally, Sunday evening, I met a high school friend at the San Clemente Pier.  We ate burritos and talked until the sun set. 

Monday:  Boarded a plane, landed in Salt Lake City, and drove home to my three handsome boys.

So I've had quite a week!  But it was the best of weeks.  I've actually had a hard day acclimating back to reality.  I feel like I'm having an identity crisis.  Southern California will always be home; it's my familiar full of happy memories.  Plus, what can possibly top an ocean view?  But on the other hand, I don't want to give up this simple, beautiful, country lifestyle I enjoy here in Idaho with my own little family.  So I think I have a plan: I'll raise my family here and then Bron and I will retire to a boat.  Yup!  It's going to happen.    

A GIANT thank you to everyone who helped make our weekend so enjoyable!  We love you all.

Why I Bother to Clean the House

4.10.2014

Sometimes I sigh in exasperation and I have to ask myself, "What is the point of cleaning?" 

These days I may clean my house as fast and terrible as a tornado, but at the end of the day my home is just as messy (or worse!) as it started.  There are toys strewn across the living room, crumbs on the kitchen floor, and a nice yellow puddle sitting on the back of the toilet where somebody thought aiming was over-rated.  This is motherhood with two little boys. 

Why?  Why do I even bother to clean?

Well, the answer to that is easy.  I clean because it's important to me to start over.  Instead of living in an abundance of filth, we're just living in a thin layer of it.  I clean because I want it to take me just 20 minutes to mop the kitchen floor instead of 40 or 60 minutes.  And I clean, well, because it's in my blood; those OCD clean tendencies are tough to kick.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Sometimes when Bron walks through the door in the evening I feel like I need to tell him all of the productive things I did that day, as if to justify that I really am doing my job!  I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, I washed two loads of laundry, I took out the trash, I made the bed.  And look!  There's dinner cooking on the stove.  And as an added bonus, the kids are still alive and I didn't even yell at them all day long.  We actually had fun.  Aren't I A-MAZZZING?  And that's when I wish he'd sweep me off my feet because he's so impressed, but really, all I'm looking for is a little appreciation and validation.  As wonderful and rewarding as being a stay-at-home mom is, I sometimes feel like I'm walking around in circles. 

So to all you other mamas out there struggling to do it all and be everything to everyone in your life, I'm in your corner.  I totally understand.  You are amazing, even if no one but you sees all that hard work.     

Spring Break in St. George: Mountain Biking

4.09.2014
I think I have a new addiction.  It's called mountain biking.  Mountain biking has become Bron's obsession and now I understand why!  I'm so glad he introduced me to the sport, scraped knees and all.  In fact, last weekend when Bron went biking with some friends, I was a little jealous!  I wanted to go too but someone had to stay behind to take care of the kids.  We may need to get babysitters for some mountain biking dates this summer.

We spent two full days of our vacation mountain biking in the red hills of southern Utah.  And we would have biked more if our rear ends would have let us!  Ouch.  It was a blast!  Biking is a challenge (that I often try only to fail) and a thrill.  I gained a lot of confidence on this trip, learning to choose the right lines, using my momentum to climb over rocks, and taking my hand off the brake to careen downhill.  It was soooo much fun!  How often do you get good exercise and an adrenaline rush all at once?  Take me back!

^^Our comrades, Nick and Amy^^
^^I love that this is something we enjoy doing together!^^
^^My new and super cool sunglasses^^
^^Just look at those views!  (I'm not talking about us.  hehe)  The trails often led us around the edges of breathtaking cliffs.  I felt surprisingly in control and safe though.^^
^^Real ancient Indian petroglyphs.  Doesn't this look like they outlined children's feet?  Very cool to see.^^
 
Till next time, mountain bikes!