Life Lately in Photos and Snippets


Now that the busy adventures of summer have come to a close and I have a brand new camera (the Canon 6D!!!) to play with, I've been itching to get back to photographing our everyday lives around here.  And with two crazy fun little boys, you're almost guaranteed a little lifestyle flair. 

^^These smiles slay me.^^
^^If you're ever over visiting, be sure to ask Levi to ride his strider bike for you.  It is so fun to watch someone so short zoom around so fast and with such incredible balance.^^

Yes, we're potty training this week!  So far, so good... but I'll give you the official word in a month or so.  It really helps to have an older brother to show you the ropes and some advanced two year old communication skillz.  Plus, this kid will do anything for candy!  (He scales my pantry shelves to reach the candy I keep high up above my own head but hasn't even attempted to climb out of his crib yet.  Go figure.)  "Everybody come in here!" he exclaimed after tinkling last night.  Along with three M&Ms, he also expects a standing ovation from the entire family every time he pees.  Hahaha.

Lincoln Logs have completely taken over our living room.  It's a new obsession for Jed, but I don't mind one bit.  I actually enjoy helping Jed create new twists on the old log home, barn, or hotel.  And don't forget some fences or else the animals will escape!

Words can't tell you how much I just want to wrap this little boy up in my arms and never let go.  His smile, his enthusiasm, his imagination and zest for life are all simply contagious.  And he loves preschool too.  However, what also comes with Jed's sweet and caring personality is his need for routine.  He is an extremely particular child.  For instance, I once wrapped his untouched peanut butter and jelly sandwich in plastic so that Jed could possibly eat it the next afternoon.  Ever since then, Jed insists on wrapping any shred of leftover food in plastic for later.  "We have to put it in a paper bag!" he declares.  "Jed, that's just crust.  You won't eat that later, I know it."  Thus, a battle ensues.  Sometimes I give in and secretly throw it away later.  And sometimes, in other circumstances, I have to explain that it's okay to do things differently.  Hard lesson for this boy! 

Levi has taken the role of obnoxious little brother quite seriously.  He is very talented at destroying every log structure Jed so painstakingly puts together.  It's his job.  Sometimes I'm not sure how to handle this little monster.  He's so different from his brother!  Fortunately, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that seem to be working for now.

But, Levi is also a riot.  He is a huge personality all bottled up in a tiny body.  I catch myself laughing out loud multiple times a day as he narrates every detail of his life.  The things he says are hilarious!  I absolutely love scooping him up out of his crib every morning.  Between those golden curls and big eyes, happy smile, and loud smacking kisses he so freely bestows on my cheeks, I'm a puddle on the floor.

I love both my little boys.  Fiercely.  It's a good life we have here and now.

Weekend Lava Cave Spelunking


^^So happy I got to spend the whole day with these three handsome faces.^^

When we woke up Saturday morning to dark clouds and rain, both Bron and I felt a little disappointed that we'd have to cancel our mountain biking date.  Luckily, plan B turned out even better when Bron's buddy, Aaron, invited us to tag along with his family exploring some lava caves out in the desert.  Jed and Levi were sooo excited!  "We go on a adventure!" Levi declared.

Some background: Lava tubes in the Idaho desert were formed more than a million years ago by a shield volcano.  During the Cold War, many lava rock tubes snaking thousands of feet underground were made accessible to the public to be used as nuclear fallout shelters.  There are also countless other caves in the desert; some small and slot-like, others wide and cavernous.  Fact: all of these caves practically beg to be explored!

We were so proud of Jed!  Armed with just a flashlight, Jed marched right to the back of the civil defense cave with his little friends.  They then scrambled up and over some rock to explore some spaces towards the back of the cave.  It seemed completely out of character to us as his parents, but we were thrilled to see this bold and brave side of Jed.  That's my boy!

Then, because there was no way our Acadia brigade could tackle the rest of the rocky desert road, all ten of us--including six kids seven and under--hiked nearly two miles to the next cave that Aaron claimed was a "must see".  Well, the rain stayed away and the kids did surprisingly well... if you're okay with sore shoulder muscles from carrying a few extra pounds. 

But WOW!  That second cave still has me reeling in awe.

We dropped down through a small opening in the earth and climbed just a few yards into a gigantic dome with a gaping hole in the ceiling.  At the bottom of the cavern laid a bed of luscious green ferns.  Ferns!  How strange to see ferns growing in the rocky desert of southern Idaho!  It was really just plain incredible.

Bron and I couldn't help discussing on the way home how unbelievably blessed we are.  We have two healthy and happy little boys, good friends, a beautiful home, no real worries about food or bills, and the opportunities to get out and explore!  We both feel most alive when we're out hiking or biking or doing something new.  And we're grateful we got to share that feeling with our boys on Saturday.  We love being a family.

^^Descending the stairs into the Civil Defense Cave^^
^^Bron and Levi standing among the ferns under the "sun roof"^^
^^Best view of the house.  Can you see the hole we climbed down through on the right?^^

Apple Picking Fun


Every once in a while (okay, almost weekly) I get an itch to get out and do something out of the ordinary.  I want to live in the moment and spend some quality time with my two little boys doing something fun.  So when my neighbor Dani told us about this amazing apple orchard in Filer where her family scored apples for 25 cents a pound, I knew it was just the ticket.

Since Jed attends preschool Monday through Thursday, Friday is now officially a part of the weekend; it is a third day without a schedule dedicated to play!  The little boys and I excitedly loaded into the car Friday morning to find this apple farm.  We got lost.  Sooo close and yet so far.  But the boys were surprisingly content in the back seat.  It was a beautiful country drive!  We even happened upon the Steelhead Fish Hatchery for a mini pit stop adventure.  (Note to self: visit that place again in May or June.)

 ^^The man working there said there were over 4 million (did I hear that right?) fish there right now.^^
 ^^Jed's tube socks with shorts kill me. My boy has style!^^

Well, we did finally make it to the apple orchard and it was picture perfect.  There were rows and rows of every variety of apple tree located right on the canyon rim and two very happy little boys eager to pick and eat.

Jed lived on the ladder high up in the leaves of one particular tree.  My little monkey would pick an apple, carefully descend the ladder, and then drop it in his bucket--over and over.  It was the cutest thing.  And sometimes he would just sit up there and taste that juicy yellow orb.

Levi, on the other hand, was a little too young and short to be helpful.  We did find some branches just right for him to pick from though.  Come to find out, Levi insisted on eating one bite from before tossing it into his bucket.  It made me laugh! (And drove me a little crazy too.)

 ^^Our combination of Gala and Golden Delicious.  Mmmm!^^

We all three had sooo much fun!  We even drove halfway home with the windows down to get the flies out of the car.  Both Jed and Levi loved that!  We really had such a marvelous morning that the little boys are still talking about it.  And that's exactly what I like to hear.

Now on to dehydrating the apples and apple pies to the ceiling!  Yum.    

P.S.  Anyone know why blogger makes some (not all) of my pictures look more orange than they really are?  Grrr...

On Slooowing Down for the Sickies and Every Other Day Too


It's late afternoon and I'm still in my pajamas.  Same story yesterday too: I didn't shower until after the boys had finally gone to bed.  And yet, I don't mind one bit.  I'm actually really enjoying this privilege I have as a stay-at-home-mama to cuddle and care for my little boys--especially when they need me most.

You see, yesterday both Jed and Levi caught a stomach bug.  Throwing up was quite traumatic for both of them.  Poor boys.  So while Jed took a four hour nap in his room, I simply held Levi on the couch in the den because all he wanted in the whole wide world was me...and his soft blue blanket.

It's hard for me to see these two feeling so yucky and lethargic, so out of character for them.  But curiously, on the flip side, this is when I love being needed.  I feel like I'm doing what I was made to do: to wipe away those crocodile tears, to bathe, to cuddle and to comfort.  When the two little people I love most are sick, I feel like it's okay to drop everything and take the day slooowly and as it comes.

So why oh why don't I feel like I can do this most other days when we're all well?  Why do I have a to-do list a mile long?  Why do I feel like I need to be in a hurry?  Why do I fill my few free minutes with a million things that just don't matter?  And why do I stress myself out because of it?

The truth is, the important things will get done.  And some things I may never get to!

All I know is that I need to put Jed and Levi at the top of my priority list every day.  And I try, I really try.  But I realize I need to slooow down and relax a bit more, to linger just a little bit longer with them under my arms as we read stories, to take the time to really listen to their silly stories, and to give them yet another goodnight kiss.  There is a time and a season for everything.  And right now, that season is dedicated to these two miniature sweethearts.

Ririe or Bust


^^Lunch at one of my all-time favorite places with some of my all-time favorite people.^^

I began last week with a sore throat, fever, and all around miserable achiness that is still mildly hanging on.  I always manage to contract one or two minor illnesses every year that knock me off my feet and this was is one of them.  Bron insists that I make my ailments worse by refusing to eat anything.  He's probably right, but if it hurts to swallow then I say that food ain't worth the effort!  So after canceling everything on the calendar and getting absolutely nothing done all week, I couldn't quite bring myself to scratch our trip to Ririe to hang out with Grandma and Grandpa Nelson too.  Anyhow, the boys were sooo excited!  So after a rough start Thursday morning, we finally hit the road.  Ririe or bust, baby!

Sometimes I wish I could see and feel things from Jed and Levi's perspective.  They are absolutely wild about Grandma's house and they adore everybody there--cousins, uncles, and of course, Grandma and Grandpa.  There's always frozen raspberries, marshmallows in the kitchen drawer, vintage toys galore, and the same red sleeping bag for Jed to sleep in on the floor.  Plus don't forget, there's an entire dairy farm to explore too!  With so much to do and so many people to love and be loved by, it's no wonder my boys look forward to a trip to Grandma's like it's Christmas morning.  And hey, I love it too.

I mixed a little business into our trip and managed to do three photo shoots with my brand new camera.  (I'm head over heels in LOOOVE, by the way!)  Then Bron and I visited two of our favorite friends Thursday evening.  We stuffed our faces with delicious cheesecake and got talking/laughing way too late into the night--but you know we wouldn't have it any other way.

On Friday we began making our way south again.  First stop: Rupe's in Blackfoot.  That place is equal parts awesome food and nostalgia.  (I've been making memories there since that one crazy night sophomore year in college.)  A person just can't go wrong with Rupe's!  With our bellies full, we briefly visited my four day old niece, Quincy, and then headed to Uncle Call's high school football game against Aberdeen.  Call texted me later that night and said he could actually hear Jed and Levi cheering.  Haha.  Annnd Ririe won.   

A good two days and good memories made.           

 ^^Chugging milk and hamming it up for the camera while waiting on Grandma and Grandpa Nelson^^
 ^^Fish and chips fries for me!  Yumm!^^
 ^^Cheering with Grandma from the bleachers.  Go Call!^^
 ^^Jed wanted in on the action too.  He kept sneaking onto the grass.^^

Jed also found a giant moth somewhere near the stands and brought it to me cupped oh so carefully in his hands.  When I told him I thought it was dead and to put it back, Jed promptly threw the moth on the ground and stomped on it.  Then stomped on it some more in front of everyone.  Ugh.  What a boy!

 ^^Can you spy #6?  That's our guy, Call!^^

Jed's First Day of Preschool


^^Jed was sooo excited to wear his new dinosaur "pack pack"... and a hat, of course.  He can't hop on the bus without a hat.^^

Jed started preschool on Monday and we all couldn't be more excited!  I think his favorite part about going to school may be riding the bus, but Jed says he likes learning about numbers.  Jed's favorite color is blue and when he grows up he is going to be a dad.  What a cutie.

As for me, I'm handling this change much better than I did when he initially started preschool last February.  I'm ready for this!  But as for Jed, well, he's a particular child who thrives on routine.  He's going to afternoon preschool now which means no more naps and an earlier bedtime.  It also means his bus schedule has changed.  We've already dealt with two very epic and hysterical meltdowns after school.  (Whew!  We survived... barely.)  I just hope he adapts quickly to all these new changes and we can find a new routine that suits everyone really soon.

I sure love you Jed and am proud of the big, sensitive, creative, and happy personality that lives in that short little boy body of yours.  Go get 'em, Tiny!   

A Trip to the Zoo!


One last item on our summer to-do list was to visit the zoo!  Turns out, September is the perfect month for such an excursion.  The sun wasn't too hot, there weren't any crowds, and all the animals were visible.  We had so much fun!

I loaded the kids into the car first thing Thursday morning to make the two hour trek to Boise where we met my mom for a picnic lunch at the park just outside the zoo.  (Boise, by the way, is a beautiful city!)  Then we were off for an afternoon of discovery and exploration.  The highlight of our day, hands-down, was feeding the giraffe.  Both Jed and Levi were given lettuce pieces to reeeeach up towards the giraffe's long purple tongue.  It was exhilarating for Jed.  And very scary for Levi.  What a special memory!

^^I hope Jed remembers this.^^
^^My mom adores these two little boys.  She gets a kick out of all the cute and innocent things they say and do.  Awesome Grandma right there.  Jed and Levi love her so much!^^
^^The boys got to play in a "prairie dog tunnel"^^
^^You might not be able to tell, but Jed is interacting with a prairie dog through the glass--hand to tiny paw.  It was so cute!^^
^^There were a bunch of very real looking dinosaurs on display throughout the park that moved and growled.  Jed was enamored.  Also, what do you do when you have just a single stroller but both boys' feet are feeling tired?  Double up, of course, and hold on!^^

Naturally, we stayed the night there at my mom's house.  Jed and Levi would have been very disappointed if we didn't!  As would my half brothers, Michael and Ryan.  We attended Michael's cross country meet, cheered Ryan on at his soccer game, and played at the park the next morning.  It's always so nice to get together.  I love watching my boys reciprocate the unconditional love they feel from family.  It's the sweetest feeling. 

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