Memorial Day Weekend on the Dairy

5.31.2017

We spent most of our three day weekend out on the Nelson family dairy farm.  They just installed four robots to milk the cows.  It's an incredible new operation: the cows walk into the parlor and a robot cleans the teats and milks them.  (My favorite part is when the robot wipes its own eye!  Haha.  It just seems kinda funny.)  Then off the cows go to the barn or pasture to eat until their udders feel full and they wander into the parlor again.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It was fun to watch!

But as neat as technology is, some things never change.  Nothing beats a good old fashioned bike ride along dirt roads.  Conrad even got to visit the zoo for the first time this weekend!  Momma Nelson runs a regular bed and breakfast as all her sons and family rotate through her front door.  But I'm grateful for warm food and family conversation and that my boys get to play with their cousins.  So many good memories are being made on this farm, and whether she realizes it or not, Merri Sue is at the center.

Sitting All By Himself and Other News

5.25.2017

Always busy reaching for a toy and rolling halfway across the room, I thought Conrad would learn to scoot before he ever learned to sit up.  But suddenly, just like that one day, he's sitting up on his own!  He's growing like a weed right before my eyes.  My baby is getting so big.  He sat there on the grass until the water balloon popped all over his toes. Then Conrad toppled over screaming.  It scared him!  I scooped him up and laughed.  It was sooo funny!

In other news, my sister Lauren called last week to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  When I missed both her and my mother's call within twenty minutes of each other, my heart sank; I knew something was wrong.  My heart breaks for Lauren.  She is 28 years old.  28!!!  She has three little children.  This can't be happening to her right now, can it?

She is my one and only sister and she lives far far away from me in Arizona.  I feel so helpless.  All I want to do is take some of that burden from her, but I can't even bring her a meal or babysit!  I also feel weirdly guilty.  Lauren's entire world has come to a crashing halt while my world continues to spin in normalcy: taking kids to t-ball, planning fun events for the weekend, exercising, the list goes on.  How do we talk now?  What might I say that would make her feel bad?

The unknown also feels scary.  While the statistics are in her favor, it's hard not to jump to the worst case scenario.  What if...?  I feel like things are going to be okay though.  Everything will be okay, no matter what happens; I trust Heavenly Father has a plan for her and her family.  It's going to be a summer of challenges and of tears.  But she's a fighter.  My sister may be younger than me but her maturity always floors me.  She has grit and a happy positive attitude.  She's also surrounded by a loving husband and family and friends there in Arizona.  She'll make it through to the other side of this with flying colors.  I know it.

In the mean time, we're praying hard for Lauren.  Levi seems to have a special knack for prayer and knows exactly what to ask for in pure innocent childlike faith.  I'll also be sending a care package and booking a flight to get my rear end down there some time this summer.  As much as I'm cautious about overstepping and perhaps causing more stress, Lauren is my sister and her business is pretty much my business, right?  I know I'd want her at my side if the tables were turned.  So Lauren, I'll either be there for you with a hug and some chocolate or be here for you, just a phone call away.  Love you.  Sending wishes for a smooth and swift recovery.                      

Photo Dump

5.24.2017
A smattering of favorite photos from February through May--and the Instagram posts that go with them--that I don't want forgotten.

^^Looking like a little old man in his Sunday sweater. He's my live dolly.^^
^^A peek into the boys' messy bedroom. Legos, superheroes, and cowboys are their whole world through the winter. They hide their best Lego creations on the window sill behind that curtain.^^
^^Stow aways, excited to pack for our weekend family reunion trip.^^
^^Hand dimples: a baby detail I can't get enough of!^^

The Nelsons Climb Tiny Town

5.22.2017

On Friday evening, after Levi graduated from preschool, Bron met all of his brothers for a night of camping at Castle Rocks with their families.  I graciously bowed out.  May is way too early in the year for me to go camping with a baby who already has a snotty cold and isn't sleeping well anyway.  But the boys had a blast roasting hot dogs and getting to sleep in a tent with Dad!  They can't stop talking about it.

I met everyone up at Castle Rocks the next day for the best part: rock climbing!  Even Flint and Merri Sue joined us.  We must have looked like a gypsy community with our combined 19 children and gear.  Haha.  But there were plenty of snacks, three ropes, and everyone got to climb who wanted to.  We adults chatted while the kids played among the rocks with warnings not to step on any cactus!  I'm not sure how many bathroom hikes to the outhouse I took the kids on, but the day went a hundred times smoother than I anticipated.  We all had a ton of fun together!  Even Merri Sue tried a route.  I'm so glad she did.  This climbing hobby has become a family affair.

Some pictures towards the end of the day:

Mother's Day

5.15.2017
^^My new favorite picture.  Three in the frame!^^

"I have been that mother—the really focused, engaged, loving mother who was all in, enjoying every speck of every second of motherhood. I have had days of basking in the moment and wanting it to last forever. I have been her, all of her. She is the woman I wish I was for my children at every moment.

But I have also been a mother who felt like I could not answer one more question, listen to anymore crying, clean up one more mess. A mother who has felt so tired I thought I would split in two. I have been all of her too, every bit of her." - Katie Smith

Happy Mother's Day to all the women in my life who love unconditionally!  Being a wife and mother are my greatest blessings and bring me so much joy.  I like who I have been stretched and grown to become because of this crazy bunch.  I feel pretty lucky.

Now excuse me while I squeeze these kids extra hard!

A Day in the Life 2017

5.12.2017

Wednesday May 3rd was a typical day here in the Nelson home, and yet, it wasn't either.  But for some reason I want to write it down and share it.  That day encompassed all the emotions I often have as a mother, from frustration to pure joy.  I even happened to take quite a few pictures too!  So just in case I don't get around to putting together my typical annual "day in the life" post this month, this juuust might stand in its place.

*****

Bron was out of town that Wednesday as he typically is just twice a month or so.  It was one of those rare times this year when I had to get both Jed and Levi to school with a nursing baby in tow.  It takes more effort than I'm willing to admit to get the big boys there on time, especially if I have to make myself look presentable too!  However, I don't think it mattered what time I got Jed up that day; he was determined to be late.

That morning, Jed was limping around with his sock on.  He had gotten a blister between his toes the night before from wearing flip flops for the first time this season.  I asked to look at it just to make sure it was okay and slapped a band-aid on it.  There.  Good to go.  Then he complained about his hand.  So I inspected that too: a sliver.  It was festering but Jed didn't want me to touch it.  We were running late, so I told him we'd get it out that night if it hadn't worked itself out by then.  Finally, Jed needed some eye drops before we headed out the door.  (His eyes have been gunky from a nasty cold.)  Jed ran away from me.  Twice!  Curled up underneath the washer and dryer with all the shoes, I dragged him out.  I actually pinned him down right there on the tile floor.  Not my best or most mature motherly move, but seriously kid!  If you know Jed, he can throw some epic fits.  He struggled and cried and said he'd let me put the drops in, so I helped him stand up and sit on the stool.  It only kiiiind of worked.  We got ourselves buckled into the car at 8:15AM.  The first bell rings that very minute.  Oh well.

I tried to recover from the trauma of the morning with a happy attitude and talking about all the fun things Jed was going to do that day on the drive to school.  It seemed to work.  I dropped him off and kissed him goodbye, still feeling slightly guilty about pinning him to the floor.

Then we headed off to Levi's preschool where I was a few minutes late to take his class graduation pictures.  But no matter, the kids were still putting on their cute caps and gowns and Conrad was as happy as a clam in his car seat, content to watch the commotion.  The photo shoot went as smoothly as it possibly could with a bunch of excited four and five year olds.  Hey, one lucky success for the day!

The Baby Conrad Growth Series: 6 Months

5.11.2017

Dear Conrad,

A whole half a year has flown by in a blink and we are celebrating your sixth month birthday.  I can't believe it.  Really, I can't believe how lucky we are to have you join our family.  Something about having you here with us to hug and hold and love on makes me complete in some way; there was a part of me missing and now that void has been filled with YOU.  My heart swells every time you smile or as I watch you drift off to sleep in my arms.  You are an amazing feeling with tangible soft squishy cheeks.

One of my favorite baby stages arrived this month.  Conrad, you found your toes!  You grab them every chance you get and pull those tasty piggies into your mouth.  It's been making diaper changes extra fun and cute lately.

Speaking of cute, I thoroughly enjoy taking you into the shower with me.  Not only is it nice to hold you skin to skin underneath the warm cascading water, but I laugh out loud every time you open your mouth to catch the spray.  Yes, you sit in my arms with your mouth wide open filling it with shower water.  It's a game, I can tell, but I'm entertained too.

Girls' Weekend in Utah

5.09.2017

Five days after getting home from our trip to St. George, I turned around and headed back to Utah to meet my mom, grandma, aunts, and cousins for a day at the BYU Women's Conference.  It was a girls' only weekend ( plus a nursing Conrad, of course).  And oh, did we take advantage and have a lot of fun!  I love those ladies.  My cousins feel more like sisters, my aunts are just plain awesome, and Grandma makes me feel so loved.

I attended Women's Conference at BYU on Friday, skipping around the campus from class to class with my cousins.  We sat in an overflow during one class eating brownies.  Delicious!  So obviously, we took our learning very seriously.  As uplifting as the conference was, I couldn't help thinking how weird Mormon culture is.  I hope I'm not the only one who looks around and thinks, "Wow, this is corny!"

I was lucky enough to have my cousin, Devin, babysit Conrad during classes.  Conrad saw ducks and waterfalls and even took a couple of naps in his stroller.  He was so well taken care of.  I can't thank Devin enough for doing that for me!

On Friday evening, we all gathered at my Aunt Mari's house for food and swimming in her pool.  Conrad splashed and splashed.  He was our entertainment for the night, he loved the water so much.  One of my favorite parts about having a baby is watching him experience the world for the first time.

All of Saturday was spent shopping.  Literally.  My cousins live in teeny tiny towns in Arizona and they know how to shop til they drop.  So that's exactly what we did!  I was even fortunate enough to take my mom into Ulta to treat her a week early for Mother's Day.  It worked out well.

Grandma spoiled us with fresh fruit, giant salads, ice cream, and all the love and conversation she could muster.  She really is the salt of the earth and possesses so many qualities I hope to emulate.

Funny story though: Grandma is 80 years old and her heart is giving her fits.  Understandably, she lacks the energy she used to have.  When she showed me the room Conrad and I would be staying in, Grandma asked that I sleep on top of the bed and not in it because she didn't want to make the bed again.  "Grandma," I protested, "I can put fresh sheets on and make the bed.  I don't mind."  But Grandma insisted that I use one of the extra blankets she'd laid out instead.  Haha.  It wound up being so warm that I wouldn't have slept with the covers on anyway.

Three cheers for family and a girls' weekend getaway! 

Spring Break in St. George

5.03.2017

The idea started as a conversation among friends at church but snowballed into an actual Spring break adventure getaway!  The last weekend in April, Bron, Conrad, and I along with five other couples (and two more babies) drove down to St. George, Utah to enjoy the sunshine, climbing, biking, hiking, and shopping.  I still feel so lucky we got to do this!  It snowed on I-15 as we made our way down, but as I stepped out of the car on Thursday evening underneath a palm tree, it was a balmy 70 degrees.  It strangely felt like home.  Bron immediately turned to me and asked, "Wanna buy a condo here?"  My reaction was immediate, "Yes!"  Well, that condo it still to be determined, but we didn't miss a beat jumping into some fun.  With the last of the daylight, we all did a little climbing on the red rock.