Our Memorial Day Hike to Phantom Falls

5.29.2018
^^Family picture in front of Phantom Falls^^

It's amazing what we can accomplish over a three day weekend when we don't have anything planned! 

Our long weekend started Saturday morning.  I did a newborn shoot and then came home to help Bron and the boys with some overdue Spring cleaning: clearing out the garage.  While Bron and the big boys took a trip to town that afternoon, I stayed home while Conrad napped to work on my talk for Sacrament meeting.  (Yikes!  It's only a little bit stressful.)  Then it was suddenly time to pick up the babysitter and head out for a date night with my one and only main squeeze.  Bron and I had a good time at the gym rock climbing.  Then I changed into a casual dress for dinner, a Target run, and some grocery shopping.  Totally a typical date for us these days.

On Sunday, I finished prepping my talk, gave my talk, and then taught Levi's rambunctious primary class.  (Yay!  I'm now off the hook for speaking in Sacrament meeting for like two years, right?!  By the way, if you're looking for a good read, take some time to absorb this General Conference talk: Joy and Spiritual Survival by President Nelson.)  After church, we invited the Horsleys over and Bron treated us to a special pasta with roasted red pepper sauce.  Delicious!  The kids played and we adults got to catch up.  Always a win-win.

Finally, Monday was Memorial Day.  Bron helped an elderly neighbor clean up his yard before I even rolled myself out of bed.  Conrad and I slept in big time!  And it was wonderful.  Then Bron mowed the lawn while I deep cleaned the kitchen.  At noon, the whole family piled into the truck for our big Memorial Day adventure!

Our mission: to find Phantom Falls.  This particular falls in the South Hills isn't well documented.  There are a few directions found online and a GPS can tell you where the falls is located, but the actual trail head is easy to miss!  Not to mention, it's way off the beaten path.  Many people look for the falls but can never find it.

We drove out to Oakley, Idaho and found ourselves on one of the South Hills' narrow dirt roads.  We drove about twenty miles in, missed it, and turned back around.  Finally, we parked in a spot that we thought looked promising.  There was a big brown board and a trail, but no sign.  We took a chance.

Snapshots of Spring

5.25.2018
^^April showers bring May tulips... and sunshine and warm breezes. We're in heaven over here.^^
^^One night before bed with his favorite blanket.^^

I sometimes wonder if Conrad is my last baby because more and more it's beginning to feel like he is.  I see other babies and think they're cute, but I'm honestly okay not doing the whole newborn thing again.  I feel content (and almost overwhelmingly busy!) with the three I already have.   No more babies?  It's a bittersweet thought that nearly brings me to tears.  So I'm cherishing every minute of Conrad's babyhood.

The Nelsons Camp at City of Rocks

5.23.2018

Last weekend, the entire Nelson family gathered at the City of Rocks for our second annual camping and climbing trip.  With nineteen children and twelve adults, we're becoming quite the group!  The trip couldn't have gone any smoother.  We lucked out with a storm that briefly rolled through Friday evening.  It left us with gorgeous skies and no camping neighbors!  We practically had the park to ourselves.  It was quiet (except for us) and beautiful.  I did not sleep a wink (Conrad slept with me.  He needed to have a hand on me at all times; he's a pro fish hooker, even when he's half asleep!  Ouch.) but we ate good food and climbed some of the best routes in the City.  Plus, all those cousins got to play and make some new memories together.  Overall, a win!     

^^The full rainbow after the storm!^^

Rain Puddles and Some Big Changes

5.22.2018
^^Always room for a brother.^^

The weather this Spring reminds me of New York.  (Remember when we used to live there?)  Clouds and rain have been in the forecast every day.  Dark clouds seem to roll in, one storm after another.  Some bring light rain, others lightning and even hail!  But it really hasn't stopped us from getting outside.  In fact, it's probably the opposite.  We still live in a desert and rain here is something to be celebrated.  Jed and Levi have been having a blast riding their bikes through the mud in our driveway.  (Um, you should have seen the back of their slacks and vests just before church on Mother's day!)  And Conrad has been enjoying learning how to use an umbrella and how to splash in the puddles.

I love it.  I love it all.  Conrad is exploring the world for the very first time.  How thrilling would it be to be one year old all over again?  I can't help but catch his enthusiasm and grab my camera.  Jed and Levi are anything but glued to electronics or concerned about their clothes getting dirty.  And though it means more laundry and more baths, I would not have it any other way.  My boys are free to be boys.  They play.  They play outside.  And they play hard.  I hope we can raise them to keep it that way.          

Little Boy standing under a clear umbrella in the rain black and white photography
^^When I saw this image, I knew it had to be black and white.  Call it creative license.^^
^^Little goof!  Tasting the umbrella?^^

Swing Like Superman

5.21.2018

Swinging after a thunderstorm.  The swing is Conrad's favorite place to be.  And the higher I push him, the happier he is!  In fact, when he escapes from the front courtyard (because somebody didn't close the gate), he bee lines it to his swing.  At least he's predictable!

These pictures remind me of Superman.  They were taken on the same day but edited at two different times, thus the colors are a little different from each other.  I just learned how to extend the canvas in Photoshop (and nearly killed this geriatric acting computer in the process.  But you guys, my new computer arrives Thursday.  It's like Christmas I am soo excited!!!) and now my mind is blown with creative possibilities.  Okay, so the photo on top is a bit ridiculous.  But in my defense, I'm sure this is exactly how Conrad feels when I give him an underdog.  Better yet, it's kind of how I see him in his joy for that swing.  

baby boy toes swinging in the clouds extend canvas in Photoshop

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

5.13.2018

There was a time not too long ago when I didn't like Mother's Day all that much.  It made me sad and left me with a lump in the back of my throat.  Thankfully, that is NOT the case today!  Jed and Levi are both overly enthusiastic about the gifts they bring home from school and are so quick to give me a hug, that I can't help feel anything but loved.  To them, I can do no wrong.  Best of all, they still want me around and need me every day.

I have the best boys a woman could dream up.  Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mother.  All I ever really wanted to do was be a stay-at-home mom.  And here I am today, the lucky caregiver of three energetic big-hearted boys.  Sometimes it feels surreal.  They surpass my wildest dreams in their looks and personalities and talents and in the way they fill my heart up to overflowing.  I have never felt so whole and content as I do now.

But all that love does not mean I am a perfect mother.  Oh, no!  I am far, far from perfect.  I pray every day for divine help in curbing my weaknesses, or at least help in making up for them in some way because honestly, sometimes I ignore my children.  Sometimes I forget about something "important" to them.  Sometimes I'm downright lazy and feed them hot dogs warmed up in the microwave and spend nap time doing anything but being productive.  Sometimes I'm just too darn tired to fulfill another request.  And sometimes I yell and lose my shiz because I asked them three times to pick up their dirty clothes and they just are not listening!!!

But other times I give myself a gentle pat on the back because I make eye contact and really listen.  I remember to just laugh it off.  I teach with patience and love.  I'm prepared and on the ball about their schoolwork and activities.  I plan a nutritious dinner 90% of the time.  I'm helping to instill habits of prayer and scripture study.  But best of all, we enjoy being together.

Family life is a bi-polar ride!  But overall, I'd say it's going all right.  I just hope that when they're grown, my mistakes are overshadowed by my honest efforts.  I love you with all my heart Jed, Levi, and Conrad! Thanks for letting me be your mother.

^^Jed and Levi brought me breakfast in bed this morning: yogurt, fruit, and a dum dum planted like a flag into a strawberry.  Haha.^^
^^The flower and pot Levi painted for me in Kindergarten.  Trust me, I'm swooning.^^

Bouldering Before Kindergarten

5.09.2018
two boys exploring and bouldering in dierkes lake in Idaho in Shoshone State Park

May God continue to bless the return of sunshine and warm breezes and green life to Idaho.  We're in heaven over here.  It's Spring time which means I'm itching to get outside to explore and adventure with my boys.  This week it meant leaving the to-do list completely undone for a couple of days in exchange for getting outside with my two littlest munchkins before kindergarten and nap time.  One day was spent in the South Hills enjoying a picnic beside the creek.  Conrad soaked his diaper and was completely covered in mud by the time we left.  (I secretly love it!  To me, it's a sign of a good childhood.)  The other day was spent down at Dierkes on a little hike.  Levi was determined do find Kid Rock and do a little climbing.  So we did just that.  And these are the pictures I took along the way.  Our mini adventure made me feel alive and excited for summer!  

Jed's Baptism Day

5.07.2018

Saturday was an extra special day for Jed!  It was the day he chose to be baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and to become a follower of Jesus Christ.  I was a proud beaming mama.  Jed couldn't have been more excited!

Jed was baptized at the stake center with all of his closest friends and family in attendance.  The room was full of fidgety little kids (all cousins and siblings of friends) and I couldn't help smiling; it's exactly the way it was meant to be.  I played my violin, everyone wrote some encouraging notes to Jed, and he was also given the gift of the Holy Ghost by his dad.  Simple, short, and sweet.

Then, by some miracle, we managed to feed all 52 people a proper Cinco de Mayo lunch at our home afterwards. It was chaos, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Looking around, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I felt... all for my little boy, all for our family. We are so lucky.