Taking a Hike and State Wrestling

2.29.2016

This weekend was another good one.  It started bright and early Saturday morning when we all piled into the car to head to the Idaho State Wrestling Tournament in Pocatello.  We arrived in time to see Bron's little brother Call win his first match, the semi-final!  He earned himself a seat in the final round for first or second place.  Woohoo!  The whole family was there and we were all so excited and stoked.

We then had lots of time to kill.  I'm talking alll afternoon.  So I spoiled the kids with lunch at McDonald's and ice cream cones!  Then we headed to the theater to see the new Star Wars movie!  The boys were over-the-moon excited.  And honestly, so was I!  Jed and Levi sat on either side of me, eagerly awaiting the movie to begin.  It was so cute.  Levi wound up falling asleep in my lap during the climax (nap time), but somehow that didn't stop either Jed or Levi from loudly announcing every spoiler possible to Bron when we saw him back in the arena around 4:00PM.  Hahaha.  Oh well.  I'm just happy I got to make that little memory with them.
            
Ohh, watching those wrestling matches is so intense!  Call tried to take control in the second period but was over turned and pinned.  It all happened in less than five seconds.  What an emotional killer!  Second place has got to be the absolute worst.  Such high hopes slaughtered at the last second.  But Call handled it really well.  He had a smile on the medal stand.  Second place in state is still really impressive!  He should be proud of himself because everyone else sure is.

It hit me like a ton of bricks at the tournament.  I first met Call when he was just six years old.  Jed turns six years old next month!  I feel like all I did was turn around and now Call is exiting childhood and getting ready to go on a mission.  That all happened so fast!  I'm grateful Call is such a good example for my little boys.  They watch him closely whether he knows it or not.  I wouldn't mind a bit if my boys follow behind in his footsteps.

^^Call winning his first match of the day!  Ready for the final round.^^

Late Sunday afternoon we headed to Indian Springs for some fresh air.  It just so happened that our good friends, the Horsleys, were right behind us!  Great minds must think alike because they happened to be heading to the same spot.  Either that, or we hang out too much?!  Haha.  Nah.  The kids were thrilled to see each other and we had the best time just wandering around.

As a bonus for me, I was thrilled to find so much color at the tail end of winter: red rock, green grass, blue skies!  I've been spending hours studying post-processing techniques in Photoshop the last few weeks and was able to apply a few things I've learned in these pictures.  I love bright, bold colors.  It's encouraging to see my style emerging little by little.      

^^"That's when I shoot the bad guy with my green gun!" Levi said when he saw this picture on my computer. This kid is so animated! His facial expressions crack me up. Glad I caught this one.^^
^^Bron with his girl, Addy.^^

Stories of a Threenager

2.23.2016

Is it a real legitimate thing that children turn into little monsters every time the weather is about to change?  Please tell me it is because I think I'm seeing a trend here.  My boys drove me absolutely crazy last Fall just as the weather began to cool off.  And now that winter is coming to a close and we're eagerly looking forward to spring, well, I'm pulling my hair out.

Or maybe it's not a change in weather thing at all.  Maybe it's just a three year old "threenager" thing, or more specifically, a Levi thing.  Don't be fooled by that curly blonde hair, those squishy round cheeks, and contagious smile.  I've been played more times than I'd like to admit!  It's no secret that both my boys have me wrapped around their tiny pinky fingers, but Levi--ohh boy, watch out!--is he good at pushing those limits to get what he wants.  I'm at the brink of my sanity.


Let me tell you a few short stories to clarify:

1.  We were at the shoe store a couple of weeks ago picking up some new shoes for both Jed and Bron.  I happened to look down and see Levi chewing on something.  "What are you eating?" I asked as I took his chin in my hand.  He opened his mouth to show me something blue.  Gum?  A skittle?  Bron interrupted, "Levi, that's gross.  Spit it out right now," he held out his hand.  That's when Levi looked his dad straight in the eye and visibly swallowed right there on the spot.  The look of fury on Bron's face was serious.  It took all my self-control not to giggle.  Obstinate little turd!

2.  One afternoon Levi came to me with a piece of paper and asked me to make him an airplane.  I gladly obliged and whipped one up.  When he saw what I'd made, he fell to his knees on the floor.  "Noooo!" he sobbed.  "You made the wrong one!  I want the one that doesn't fly good!"

In case you're wondering it was THIS ONE he wanted, not THIS AWESOME ONE that actually flies long and straight.  I'm still scratching my head.

3.  I turned around to shoo some neighbor kids out the door following a fun afternoon of playing at our house when Levi suddenly and deliberately threw a metal can straight at Jed's head!  It wasn't just any metal can either.  It was a giant empty coffee can that Jed had brought home from his Valentine's party at school.  Jed came to me screaming, his face dripping in blood.  I sternly told Levi to go to his room and not come out.  He wound up taking a nap.  Then I calmed Jed down and had him lie on the floor so I could get a better look at the half inch gash on his forehead.  I ultimately decided--with Bron's help (Yay for picture messages!)--upon some neosporin and a butterfly band aid.  Then we topped off the healing process with a movie, the Jungle Book.  Poor kid deserves a little relaxation after all that!  And I'm happy to report Jed is all healed up now.

As a mom of boys I have learned a couple of things so far pertaining to bumps and bruises: First, if the cut is questionable, it probably doesn't need stitches.  Chicks dig scars anyway, right?  Secondly, it's a good idea to keep a stocked first aid kit and some liquid bandage on hand.  That's some incredible stuff.

4.  Boys will be boys.  Mine fight a lot.  Sometimes I give up and ignore them.  Other times, I want to pull my hair out!  It's happened more than once.  I restrain Levi from hitting his big brother, giving both boys a minute to find some space.  But Levi apparently always has to have the last say.  As soon as I let go, Levi charges after Jed and delivers a punch anyway.

5.  The other day while I was talking on the phone, I opened the pantry door to see Levi tip-toeing on the stool eating candy!  Little sneak.  He thought he was getting away with it.  Ha!  He turned on all the smiley charm at that moment.  And I'll admit, it was hard to be mad.

6.  I enjoy making myself chocolate protein smoothies for breakfast.  For some reason, the boys always seem to fight over who gets to press the buttons on the blender.  One morning, Levi was in his room quietly playing when I was in the kitchen.  Jed asked to push the blender buttons for my smoothie.  Of course, I let him.  But then Jed went gloating to his little brother.  Levi charged out of his bedroom SCREAMING!  "Oh, dear.  Is this really my life?" I thought to myself. 

7.  The day I wanted to put Levi out in the kennel with the dog.  That was the day I went to take a shower and came back to find Levi on TOP of the refrigerator chowing down on a giant lollipop I thought was hidden out of sight.  Nope.  The kid is part bloodhound, part monkey, part bottomless pit.  It's a daunting combination.  Keeping the pantry locked gives me about thirty extra seconds to slide my rear into the kitchen as soon as I hear the chair grinding its way across the tile.  Levi is such a messy kid!  He ate at least five granola bars that day too... among a bunch of other frustrating maneuvers and tantrums that I'm choosing to keep to myself.
    

Whew!  Levi is a handful.  Remember, I only pretend to be good at this parenting business.  I actually have no idea what I'm doing at all!  It's not all craziness though.  We have had plenty of good moments this month too--watching movies together or playing card games or riding our bikes outside, to name just a few.

Motherhood is the most bipolar ride I've ever been on.  One moment I'm up and loving the faces off these two cuties and the next moment takes all my self-control not to scream in frustration.  But one happy smile, one sweet hug, or one belly laugh and I'm all in again.  They're totally worth it.  This beautiful family of mine is worth every soul-stretching sacrifice.  These boys make me feel like the luckiest mom in the world. 

Saturday Snowshoeing

2.22.2016

I'll admit, it was a rough week.  I need to write it here in my journal, at least briefly, that no matter how much peace I've felt, or how many times I count my blessings, or how much I emphasize the positive opportunities we have ahead in raising "just two kids", my heart still aches every time I begin my monthly cycle.  I am truly happy for all the new moms I see out there cuddling their newborn babies, but somewhere inside it still hurts.  It cuts and stings.  This month marks two full years that we've been trying unsuccessfully to add to our family.  I feel like I'm stuck in limbo.  Do I try a little longer?  Hope a little longer?  Or give it all up, close that door, and move on?  It's an emotional roller coaster and I'm not entirely sure of anything at the moment.  I do know, however, that in the grand scheme of things, this heartache is temporary.  I've learned a lot this last year, from gaining more compassion for other women in similar situations to relying on the Lord and trusting in His love for me.  And I'm still learning.  I obviously have much more to learn too!   

My poor husband.  He'll do anything to make me happy.  But we all know the best medicine for the blues is some fresh air, sunshine, and a little adventure.  So Bron and Aaron planned a little snowshoeing date afternoon!  It was just the ticket.  We got some exercise, talked, goofed off, and laughed.  It was actually the first time I'd ever been snowshoeing!  It was much easier than I'd imagined.  We hiked about four miles around Eagle Trail.  Thank you, Honey! 

(Shhh!  I'll let you in on a little secret though: I'm excitedly looking forward to spring and something with wheels.  Whee!)

Then that evening, Amy and I escaped on a girls' date to town.  We shopped, ate, shopped some more, and didn't return until after midnight.  It's what we do.  Good times!     

^^Seriously, not staged.  This makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.^^
^^Making drunken criss-crossing tracks in the snow... on purpose.  Cuz we're weird.  Hehe.^^

My First Photography Conference + Valentine's Day

2.16.2016

It's true!  Over the weekend I attended my very first photography conference.  I was a little skeptical (would I really learn anything worthwhile?) and nervous (I was all by myself surrounded by strangers!), but I wound up meeting some friendly and talented women.  I also came away with a notebook full of tips and tricks and how-to's that I'm looking forward to applying to my photography and little business.  In essence, Photonative was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to keep pursuing this technical art form that I love--okay, that I am obsessed with.

I left late Thursday afternoon.  (It was so strange driving away with an empty back seat!)  The Photonative conference was held just a stone's throw away from my grandma's house in Orem, Utah so it was only natural I stay there with her.  I think I was looking forward to that more than anything!

Being welcomed by Grandma is like being welcomed home.  Grandma always makes me feel like her favorite grand-daughter; it's a neat personal trait she has.  Love.  So much love.  And Grandma definitely made sure that I did not starve either.  Food.  So much food.  Lemon meringue pie, bowls of fruit, a giant green salad, yum!  We talked and talked.  She's a transparent person: opening up about her heartaches and life's regrets, but more importantly sharing what she has learned.  If a nearly 80 year old woman can learn and grow, then so can I!  I love hanging out with my grandma.  She makes me smile.  I hope she knows how much she has influenced my life for good and how much I truly love and admire her.

^^Whenever I think of Grandma, I see her here in my mind's eye working in the kitchen.  I made sure to grab that picture while I was there one morning.^^

While in Utah for the weekend, I also skipped the Photonative party Friday night (How much awkward networking can one girl do in a day?  Bleh.) to visit with my old college roommate, Nikki!  We hadn't seen each other in years, but we didn't miss a beat.  Those kinds of friendships are too few and far between.  Miss you, Nik!  That was soo much fun.

Saturday night Grandma and I literally partied... with my aunt and uncle and cousins to celebrate Trajan's 5th birthday.  That kid is a hoot!  And that pound cake?  Delicious.

So in other words, my weekend probably consisted of more family than it did of photography, but it sure made the weekend ten times more enjoyable!  Family is everything.

I arrived home on Sunday afternoon, Valentine's Day, to some very excited happy faces and lots of hugs. It was enough for me, but the boys had a few special surprises: strawberries covered in chocolate (my favorite!) plus some pretty purple orchids.  Luckily, I had a few surprises hidden away especially for them too. I'm hands-down the most loved mama in the world. At least they make me feel that way.

Good weekend, yeah?  Yeah.

Saturday Sledding at Penstemon

2.08.2016

These memories we've been making as a family on our outdoor adventures this year have become really special to me.  No cell phone.  No distractions.  Just plain good 'ol quality family time that brings us all a little closer together and definitely brings more happiness to our home.  And as a bonus, hopefully we're simultaneously instilling a love for the outdoors and adventure in our boys.  It's all a part of our master parenting plan--if we have one at all.  :)

On Saturday afternoon we headed up into the South Hills for a sledding adventure with some of our favorite friends, the Horsleys.  This trip we pulled off into Penstemon to try a new hill.  It didn't disappoint!  In fact, it was pretty close to as perfect as I can imagine.  The weather hovered around freezing and the sun even poked its head through the clouds a few times.  We even had the whole hill to ourselves most of the afternoon.  After removing a few big bumps to make the trail smooth, the boys started flying down the hill!  No fear.  I'm not sure how they consistently made it clear to the bottom.  Every time I tried I wound up literally screaming out of control and had to bail!  Haha.  Classic, fresh, snow-in-the-face, memories.  As you can see, we are doing our best to keep the winter blues far, far, away.  It seems to be working.          

^^Our hill for the afternoon!^^
^^Jed, just before the wipe-out.  Haha.  I'm really enjoying the challenge of capturing my boys in mid-action these days.^^
^^Just chillin'.  I love this picture of Bron and Jed; it pulls at my heart-strings just a little bit.^^
^^The trail really was as fast as it looks!  I'm finding that making more of an effort this year to get in front of the camera is proving to be easier and more fun that I'd initially thought!^^
^^Bron trying a run, and of course, there's the dog chasing after him.  Tyke absolutely loves it up there.^^
^^We called him the Blind Bullet. To prepare for his speedy descent down the snow hill, Levi pulled his hat down over his eyes to protect his face from flying snow and laid down flat in the sled. It was hilarious. But he loved the ride!^^
^^Owyn = absolutely fearless boy.  He literally flew down the hill head first!^^
^^Levi eating some snow... again.  It never gets old!^^
^^Taking a break for donuts and hot chocolate.  Yum!^^
^^This ham.  I love him so much.  He's just happy to be there and drinking some hot chocolate!^^
^^Amy and Addy taking on the hill!  I can't get over their closed eyes and smiles.  Too cute.^^
^^And this look!  It makes me laugh out loud.^^
^^Aaron teaching Abram how to be brave in the face of cold flying snow.^^
^^Ollie.  This kid is so photogenic.^^
^^On a little exploration hike.^^

A part of me hopes Spring comes soon.  I'm looking forward to some sun and warmth!  But the other part of me wants to do something fun like this just one more time.

Oh, and we did watch the Superbowl this weekend too!  We made homemade pizzas and fresh guacamole and invited some friends over to enjoy it with us.  No surprise, I ate too much.  Ha!

My Thirty-Wonderful Golden Birthday

2.03.2016

I turned 31 years old on the 31st of January!!!  Woohoo!  My golden birthday.  I kinda can't believe it already came and went.  This whole getting older thing feels a bit strange.  Being in my thirties feels a bit strange.  I mean, I remember my mother being exactly this age.  I remember being a teenager and thinking 31 was OLD!  And now I'm teaching teenage girls at church and that's exactly what they think about ME!  I'm not old, am I?!?   

I find myself shrugging the whole issue of age aside.  It's just another day, another year.  I'm ignoring the morbid fact that I'm slowly on my way to losing my metabolism, my youth, and a body without aches and pains.  Instead, I'm just happy to be alive, living a life I've always dreamed, and that I'm surrounded by people I love and whom love me back.  There's still plenty ahead to look forward to.  It's enough, right?  Absolutely right.

Anyway, I did have a very happy birthday.  It feels kind of embarrassing to be put on the spot, but I am so lucky to have so many thoughtful family and friends (you know who you are!) go out of their way to make me feel special and loved.  I appreciate it.  I was spoiled rotten.  I think my mom's gift takes the cake though.  I feel like a pirate.  My mom sent me a little drawstring bag filled with 31 gold dollar coins!  I couldn't wipe the grin off my face when I opened it.

Over the weekend, Bron and I got to attend not one but TWO all-you-can-eat crab feeds.  It was finger lickin' delicious.  And smelly too!  Fund raising never tasted so good.  And there happened to be chocolate cake as well.  Birthday win!  Then we spent the rest of our date nights shopping.  Jed was a little disappointed for me in my gifts this year though.  What good is a new kitchen knife and makeup to a five year old boy?  Haha.  I know I'm thrilled!

After church on Sunday (my birthday day), my friend Amy invited our family over to her home for dinner.  She made lasagna and melt-in-your-mouth cream puffs and insisted that a birthday just isn't a birthday without candles.  I'm glad she insisted and am so thankful for her thoughtfulness!  It was a fun evening.

Happy Birthday to me!  Thirty-One is going to be a good year.  I can just feel it.
    
^^Mocking the selfie stick.  Date night fun.  This photo of Aaron and Bron makes me laugh out loud.  They have such sexy duck lips, don't they?^^
^^My birthday cream puff!  Thank you, Amy!^^