Apple Pie {A Video}

9.08.2019

I have always wanted to learn how to properly use my camera to make videos, but it always felt overwhelming... until an online friend directed me to the Filming Life Academy.  They held a free 9 day filming life keepsake challenge this past week in which they shared a little bit of basic beginner information every day with the purpose of encouraging new film makers (like me!) to make their own one to two minute film.

You guys, I am hooked!  I not only get to combine my musical background with my obsession of photography, but I get to capture the people I love most in full motion and sound.  Their laughter!  My boys' voices that will surely change.  The funny things my children do.  Video is exciting to me!  I have found a whole other world to dive into and learn about.

I have this insatiable desire to document and create.  Photography (and video) fill both those inner desires of mine and make me so very happy.  Naturally, my favorite subjects to photograph and practice on are my children.

Yesterday, we made a pair of apple pies together with apples from our backyard tree.  It's something we do every September, except this time, I filmed it.  I know practically nothing about the technical side of videography.  In fact, all my work is probably half wrong.  But every time I watch this little video, I laugh when my boys laugh.  It means a lot to me that I captured those giggles and this little tradition!

I hope you watch and enjoy!        


New York City Girls' Trip

9.06.2019

Remember when I wrote a blog post about performing my violin in Carnegie Hall?  And remember all those silly pictures I shared of my siblings and me having a fun time and making awful faces?  Well, this is the post where I share the rest of the story and pictures.  Are you ready?!

This trip to New York City in July had been planned months ahead.  It all began when my mom joined the Millennial Choirs and Orchestra in Boise and encouraged me to join as well because they were going on tour to play in Carnegie Hall -- pretty much every musician's dream venue.  Of course, the plan snowballed to include my sister.  And so a girls' trip to New York City was born!  We spent a few days exploring the city, performed in Carnegie Hall, and then hopped on a plane to Indianapolis to visit my brother Joe and his wife Karmen for two days.  It was sooo much fun!  (Even more amazing, you'd never know my sister battled breast cancer just over a year ago would ya?)

Thanks Mom for putting this all together.  It will for sure be a special memory that I will cherish for a lifetime.

The Obligatory First Day of School Pictures

8.28.2019

Bringing you photos of the first day of school... on the third day of school!  These two handsome studs started 4th and 2nd grades on Monday.  Levi was a little nervous Sunday evening, but didn't show any inhibitions come morning.  They were so excited!  Both boys were up, showered, dressed, and ready for breakfast by 7:10AM.  I am so glad they love their routine; it makes mornings go so smoothly.

This year, Levi has Mrs. Casperson.  She's a sweet and typical type A teacher who will hopefully teach Levi how to be organized and responsible this year.  I have no doubt Levi will have fun with all his friends and succeed in whatever he puts his mind to this year!

Jed has Mr. Butler and I am thrilled.  His teacher is going to be teaching the kids through reverse engineering this year... something I know Jed is really going to enjoy!  I think this teacher is going to be the perfect fit for Jed this school year.

Camping Under the Milky Way

8.27.2019

A couple of weeks ago we were headed up into the South Hills together as a family on a Sunday afternoon when Jed asked if we could go camping.  I could see Bron mulling over the request in his mind.  He passed the idea by me later that evening.  I was all in; it sounded fun!  But then we debated on where.  Do we keep it simple and head up into the South Hills or travel a little further and discover some place new?  I am so glad we decided to put in the extra effort at the last minute to camp in an area of Idaho none of us had ever visited before because... It. Was. Epic.


We left the house on Friday afternoon, three days before school started; one last summer adventure.  We found a large camping spot in a grassy area near a creek under some beautiful mountain peaks.  The place was like a dream!  We hardly saw or heard other campers all weekend.  The place felt so remote.  It was wonderful.    

Last Half of Summer Round-Up

8.22.2019
^^Two year old potty humor.  He thought he was hilarious! 😂^^

You guys, I take it back.  I'm not quite ready for summer to end and school to start after all.  It's no secret that summer is hands down my favorite season: the warm sunshine, water play, adventuring, sleeping in, and being together as a family.  It just can't be beat!  I am going to miss these carefree days and late backyard sunsets like crazy.

The other day I turned on Pandora to jam out while I cleaned my kitchen.  The song 'Summer of '69' came on.... "those were the best days of my life."  I wondered to myself what the best days of my life might be when I'm old and wrinkly and ready to pass on.  I thought of those days when Bron and I were dating and newly married.  Those were definitely good ones.  And then it occurred to me that these just might be some of the best days of my life.  Right now!  The last couple of years and perhaps a few more ahead.  The kids are at such fun and innocent ages.  They're independent enough that they sleep through the night and can grab their own breakfast.  The boys love my attention and don't mind hanging out with me.  In fact, they think their parents are pretty cool!  Bron's career is humming along.  We live in a nice home on a beautiful piece of property with some of the best friends God ever created.  Life is good and we're pretty darn lucky.  Yup.  These are the days!
     

Our Coeur d'Alene Family Vacation Part III: Glacier National Park

8.18.2019

By Wednesday evening, after Grandma and Grandpa Nelson had gone home, Bron and I weren't ready to be done vacationing!  We were having too much fun exploring with our boys.  Then we had this idea.  Since we were so close to Glacier National Park, we should drive up there for a night and show the boys one of our favorite places.  After all, it had been on our wish list to take them there since Bron and I visited five years ago!  So that's how we spontaneously extended our family vacation.  Worth it!

We miraculously pulled straight into a parking spot late Thursday afternoon in Glacier National Park and took the boys on the short hike to Avalanche Lake.  But first, to see the Cedars Trail.  

Our Coeur d'Alene Family Vacation Part II: Tubbs Hill + The Hiawatha Trail

8.16.2019

Tuesday was a bit more low key as we set out to explore a few of Coeur d'Alene's downtown highlights at the kids' pace.

First on the list was to hike Tubbs' Hill!  We didn't finish the hike.  Instead, we pulled off at a beachy spot and the boys enjoyed playing in the water!  I didn't think to wear swimsuits or bring our towels.  (Actually, I wasn't thinking at all.  I was just surviving with my sore throat!)  But we all had a blast anyway.  I didn't talk much, but I sure did enjoy myself.  Hanging out at the water's edge in the sunshine and watching my boys happily play is a day in heaven in my book!

Ten. More. Days.

8.15.2019


Dear Boys,

I am counting down the days til school starts with decidedly more excited anticipation than you are.  I never ever thought I'd utter those words, but here they are plain as day in black and white: I can't wait for you to go back to school!

Perhaps it's this awful sore throat, cough, and fever sickness I've been dealing with for over a week that's talking, but I can't be 100% sure.

You see, I'm ready for my house to stay somewhat clean for longer than five minutes.

There are Nerf bullets on every surface, sand in the crevices of the couch, trash and clutter piled up in your room, and sticky spills all over the kitchen floor.

I'm ready for a break from my job as referee.

I help fill part of our days together with fun outings, but you're frankly bored of each other. Oh, the screaming and the pestering!

I'm your mother.  I love you fiercely, boys.  But you're driving me crazy.

I'll probably be wishing it was summer again when that first school project comes home and we can't make some spontaneous trip to the pool, but for now, I've never been more ready for school to start.

Ten more days.

Until then, Hulu is your babysitter.

Love,
Mom

Our Coeur d'Alene Family Vacation Part I: Farragut State Park + Silverwood

8.11.2019

We just arrived home from an epic family vacation to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho -- and a last minute extension to Glacier National Park!  Something about vacations makes me want to simplify my life so that my real life can feel more like this: time together.  We saw so many incredibly beautiful places and went on some adventures that I know the boys (and me too!) will be talking about for a long time.  These family vacations feel so special to me.  And this one went so smoothly with the kids.

We arrived in Coeur d'Alene the evening of Saturday August 3rd.  It just happened to be Levi's actual birthday! (We celebrated with chocolate cupcakes from the store.)  We checked in to our cute three bedroom Airbnb located in an older neighborhood among some tall trees.  That little home made our stay so much more comfortable!  I mean, I was doing a load of laundry after our first day.  The boys are always getting their clothes so filthy.  I love that we had a separate bedroom from the kids and that there was a full kitchen.  Plus, the boys' room had toys and the front room was loaded with family friendly movies.  It was great!

But it gets better.  The rental was just a short bike ride from Ross' Point, a little park on the river!  That was our first stop Sunday morning as we ventured out to explore for the day.      

Artifact Motherhood | Feelings From My Childhood

8.05.2019
artifact motherhood


Dear Boys,

I had an experience this month that showed me how truly broken I am.  I had just spent a week with my mom, sister, and brother.  We made so many fun memories together.  When our trip was over, I drove two and a half hours alone in the car to get back home to you.  And I cried.  I bawled, actually.  My emotions swept me away and took me completely by surprise.  "Why in the world am I crying so much?"

Then it occurred to me: I left my childhood behind -- including all those unanswered and un-dealt with emotions -- years ago.  I turned 18 and moved away.  I attended college, married your dad, and haven't looked back since.  We've created a wonderful life together, your dad and I, that includes you three boys.  It's a life (and a relationship) I always dreamed of for myself.  I feel so lucky sometimes that I have to pinch myself.

The irony is that I know it can be all swept out from underneath me in an instant.  Your Aunt Lauren feels the same way about her life!  We seem to always be waiting for the other shoe to drop, as if some big ominous trial lies around every good corner.  That mindset right there is a reflection of our childhood.

Don't misunderstand.  I enjoyed a great childhood!  I have many precious memories that include bike rides, and beaches, and road trips to see cousins.

But my childhood was also riddled with emotional trauma.  Memories from my parents' divorce when I was eight years old (years of drama!) clear through the verbal and emotional abuse I endured primarily from my stepdad as a teenager, all came flooding back.

I feel like I need to write those memories out here to justify myself, but I won't.  Some stories are just pretty plain messed up. It all happened though and how I feel is how I feel.

How I feel is what's bothering me though.  Apparently I have not dealt with these feelings yet, just buried them in the past.

Celebrating Levi's 7th Birthday with a Nerf Gun War and Night Games

7.31.2019

This cool kid turns 7 years old in a few days!  I cannot believe it.  He is getting so big and grown-up.  Like, how are his hands 3/4 as big as mine already?!  We celebrated his upcoming birthday with something Levi has been talking about doing for a long time with his friends: a Nerf Gun War + Night Games!

You guys, this was hands-down the easiest, most fun, and thrifty party I've ever hosted.  Forget Pinterest.  Simplicity is where it's at.

Levi said he wanted a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.  I came through with a Funfetti box cake poured into a 9x13 pan.  Then I spread some green (Levi's favorite color) homemade frosting and sprinkles on top of it a couple of hours later.  Voila.  No stress and little mess!

As for décor, well, I lost my birthday box full of balloons and streamers and more!  I asked Bron to pick up some balloons; he accidentally bought a bag of pink and purple ones thinking they were multi-colored.  Bahaha.  So no decorations for Levi.  Honestly, he didn't even notice.

I did order a bag of glow sticks from Amazon and my friend Janie generously donated this box of 500 bullets.  Genius.  It was honestly all we needed for a good time.  That, and ten of Levi's best friends, of course.  Friends always make the party.

So after some cake, ice cream, and presents, the boys loaded up their Nerf guns and went to war!

They played a version of tag with two teams.  Each team had a secret medic.  When a guy got shot, the medic could rush to his aid and revive him.

Then as it got dark, I busted out the glow sticks and Bron taught the kids how to play Steal the Flag.  I think it was every boy's first time playing the game.  I am so proud we were the ones to introduce it to them; it really is the best summer time game.  They played five rounds before someone squirted himself in the eye with glow stick juice.  Ouch!  It was about time to call it a night anyway.

The kids had a blast!  They were all high on life and adrenaline as I dropped them off at their homes.  We are totally going to have to do this again.

A big thanks to all the neighborhood boys and their moms for making this dream of Levi's a reality.

Happy Birthday, Bud!  I love you so much.  Levi, you make me so proud in so many ways.  I can't wait to see what you do this year and for many years to come.

Our First Mountain Bike Ride as a Family of Five

7.25.2019

We went for our first mountain bike ride as a family of five.  Yes!  Conrad went along!  It's kind of a special feeling to be all together on the trail.  Jed and Levi even conquered the entire Eagle loop for the very first time too.  Go boys!

We bought Conrad a rad new toy, er actually it's a seat.  It's called a Mac Ride, made by some crazy and innovative Canadians, of course.  It attaches to both Bron and my mountain bikes quickly and easily.  It's genius!  Then Conrad hops on the seat, places his feet in the stirrups, and grabs the handle bars.

"Ready, set, go!" Conrad excitedly chants.

Conrad can't get enough.  He's right in the middle of the action with us, both uphill and downhill; no fear.  He actually thinks he's in charge.  "Daddy on the side," he says.  It makes me chuckle.

Here's to many more priceless family bike ride memories!


A Trip to Ritter Island

7.24.2019

We've lived in the Magic Valley for eight whole years this summer.  (I suppose that makes us boring and stable, but I welcome those two adjectives to describe my life with open arms.)  While living here, we've discovered some pretty amazing places to play that are worth visiting over and over again.  And we do!  However, as I put together a list of ideas of day adventures to do with the kids this summer, I suddenly had this desire to discover something new.  It felt like we'd been there and done it all, but I knew that couldn't possibly be true.  Turns out, all I had to do was broaden my radius a bit.  Enter Thousand Springs State Park.  There are multiple attractions to explore within the park, just about an hour's drive from our home.  Sweet!  So on Monday, the hottest day yet this summer, we checked off one of our summer day trip items: Ritter Island.

Ritter Island is literally an island that sits right smack in the middle of the Snake River.  It was once a self sustaining farm with dairy cows, fruit trees, and all sorts of other agriculture.  We wandered around the property and through the near one hundred year old barn.  We heard some owls but never did see them.

There is also a natural underground spring that bursts from the canyon walls in that area.  The crystal clear water is used to create electricity before running into the river.  Our volunteer guide told us that the water runs at about 52 degrees all year long and is so clean we could drink it!  (I wouldn't drink it downstream of Conrad though.  He pooped in his swimming suit.  I dumped the turd out in the bathroom but had no other choice but to put his trunks back on!  No worries, they were clean by the time we left.  wink-wink)

So after touring the island, we set up a picnic on the grass and ventured into the cold water.  The river there is shallow and very slow moving and just plain gorgeous.  The boys weren't too enthusiastic about the water at first, but soon realized they could float underneath the bridge and then they were all in!  A set of grandparents offered to let us borrow their tubes for the afternoon.  We took turns taking short lazy trips down the river and made some pretty amazing memories together!  I can't wait to go back.  (I already bought tubes!)

And just to keep it real, I have to mention the ginormous splinter Jed got stuck in the bottom of his foot!  Poor kid.  He went to cross the old bridge with a tube and must have dragged his foot a bit.  I have never seen a splinter so big or seen one lodge itself so deep.  (Lesson learned: always wear shoes on the bridge!)  Fortunately, I asked around and someone had an entire nail care packet in her car that included tweezers.  Jed screamed dramatically, but I successfully removed it!  We were then able to spend a couple more hours playing in the water.  Never a dull moment with three boys.

So a big fist pump for generous and friendly people who helped make our first trip to Ritter Island so much fun.  I love Idaho and its many pretty gems, but the good people here are what make it so great.  

A Bike Race Called El Doce

7.23.2019

Last weekend: Carnegie Hall in New York.  This weekend: a twelve hour relay style bike race in the Rocky Mountains.

I can't help laughing at myself.  All those personal healthy habits I've been working on all summer suddenly got thrown away this month.  I've eaten way too much sugar, gained three pounds, and haven't gotten nearly enough sleep, but I'm not letting myself feel even a twinge of guilt because this is what living life to its fullest looks like for me right now.

Bron and I packed up the truck and the kids with us and headed down to Ogden, Utah on Friday night to meet friends for the El Doce bike race at Powder Mountain.

We used Bron's points for a suite style hotel room.  As we were unpacking, I just had to Polo my sister about the room we were staying in; quite a drastic difference from our hotel in Manhattan.  When I hung up, I realized Conrad was not there.  "Did Conrad just leave?" I asked in disbelief.  That toddler is Harry Houdini re-incarnated, I swear.  So Bron took off down the hall one way while I took off down the hall the other way.  Luckily, Bron found Conrad fairly quickly... riding the elevator.  Of course!  Conrad was having the time of his life pushing allll the buttons.  It took a while for Bron to catch the elevator, but when he did, Conrad's fun stopped immediately and some fear about not seeing Mommy ever again instilled in his little head.  But probably not.  Conrad is two, forgets quickly, and has no fear.  So even though I hope Conrad never runs away again, he probably will.  The whole scenario was stressful then, but hilariously funny now.  Whew!

We tried to rescue the evening by going out to eat at a pizza place down street.  Dinner was a fail.  I mean, the food was great but it took more than an hour to be delivered to our table.  To sum it up, everyone was feeling and acting hangry.

So with our tummies full, I took the boys swimming at the hotel pool.  Finally, a success!  Because the pool was so small and shallow, I decided to take Conrad's life jacket off to hopefully instill some realization that he can't swim on his own just yet.  Conrad immediately jumped right into deep end!  I grabbed his foot and scooped him up.  No problem.  Conrad had held his breath and was all smiles.  He then continued to throw a ball and jump in after it over and over again.  Each time, he would kick his eyes to the surface but just couldn't quite get his nose and mouth above water.  Conrad is totally getting survival/swimming lessons as soon as school starts.  While we were there, Levi practiced swimming laps.  Then he did countless push ups.  He was determined to wake up sore in the morning!  Haha.  It worked.  The pool was a fun way to end the night for all of us.

So yeah, vacationing with kids in a nutshell.

And then... we were all up to see the sun rise at the top of Powder Mountain.          

I Played My Violin in Carnegie Hall!

7.18.2019

Someone pinch me.  I got to check off a once in a lifetime bucket list item by performing in Carnegie Hall Friday night!!!   And with my mom nonetheless.  It still feels surreal.

I also got to fan girl over the violinist Jenny Oaks Baker in person too.  She was there just four feet from me during both rehearsal and during the concert.  The rehearsal in the cultural hall below the LDS Temple in Manhattan was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip, honestly.  All the orchestra members from all five MCO locales gathered in one place.  It was huge.  It was loud.  It was fun.  After the concert at Carnegie, we celebrated by going out for gelato at Grom.  And guess who was there in line with her girlfriends in front of us?  Jenny Oaks Baker!  So I can pretty much claim we got dessert together, right?  Haha.

I was also awed by the sopranist, Erin Morley.  After performing the Doll Aria, she stayed in character, hanging her head and arms as if she was a tired mechanical doll on stage.  The conductor didn't know what to do!  It was hilarious.  Erin is definitely a performer.

Take me back to do it all over again.  I love making music.

But that's not the end of the story...

Unfortunately, while I got to perform in Carnegie Hall on Friday night with the Idaho and Texas groups, the concert on Saturday night for the Utah and California groups was cancelled.  Break my heart!  The concert was cancelled due to a blackout in Manhattan that lasted hours.  All that sacrifice of time and money for a dream crushed.  What are the chances of that happening?  New York City hasn't seen a blackout like that in fifteen years!  It was also the first time in the history of Carnegie Hall that a concert was cancelled due to a blackout.

However, I'd like to believe it wasn't a coincidence at all.  I'd like to believe God had his divine hand in it.  After delivering the sad news of the cancelled concert, Brandon Stewart stood up and said, "We're going to leave this city with 'I Believe in Christ'... and we're going to let it rip."  The videos show just how powerful that moment was!  Thousands of people getting off dark subway routes, walking through the city, or peeking their heads through the windows of adjacent buildings stopped to watch and hear the message of hope and faith in Jesus Christ.  The message has been shared a million times over now.  Wow.

This is exactly why I feel the Millennial Choirs and Orchestra are worth my time and effort.  I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.          

Happy 4th of July

7.08.2019
^^My boys on the 4th of July! They were so stoked about their dollar sunglasses and bandanas and dressing in red, white, and blue. So of course, I gathered the three together for a quick picture in my favorite spot of the house. I've taken about a half dozen pictures of these brothers in this same corner since Easter. It's totally becoming a series that I know I'm going to cherish.^^

Independence Day landed on a Thursday this year, the most genius thing ever.  The 4th of July should always land on a Thursday!  It was a long weekend of celebrating and getting absolutely nothing done.  We deviated from "tradition" this year and chose to spend the holiday with the entire Nelson crew on the dairy farm.  (But first, we attended the annual Kimberly 5th Ward breakfast where I led the children in singing two fun holiday songs!)  The Nelson get together included loads of food (duh!), lots of chit chat, a tour of Talon's new home under construction, noise and chaos, cuddling babies, and finally, our very own fireworks show.  The kids claim we had nearly 100 fireworks.  I believe them!  It was quite the amateur production.

The next day, Nichole kindly babysat Conrad so that Bron and I could take Jed and Levi mountain biking with Grandma and Grandpa.  The boys biked five miles round trip on a singletrack trail!  I am so impressed with them... except for the part where Levi crumpled to the ground in despair on our way UP a steep hill on our way back to the truck.  I think the kid needed some lunch.  But he's only six, so considering it was his first big ride, he did really well over all!  We biked out to an old dam made in the late 19th century.  It's decaying now, creating two waterfalls on either side.  It was a beautiful destination and the trail was in pristine shape.  What a fun little adventure!      

Happy Independence Day!

7.04.2019

Happy Independence Day!  My second favorite holiday of the year is here!  (Or maybe it's my third favorite?)

I drove the boys up Indian Springs last night just as a storm was blowing through.  The clouds made for a dramatic backdrop and inspired a few fireworks themed images in post process.  I love getting my creative late night hat on.  It's so fun to try new things and learn more about editing.  It makes me happy.

Anyway, the three boys stomped around the rocks and sage brush waving their flags and pretending to be soldiers while I snapped pictures.  I admire their patriotism.  Considering their family background in the military, I would not be surprised if one -- or even all three brothers -- joined the armed forces someday.  It's something Levi talks about often.

I love this country.  Despite a number of heavy and hard things she's currently dealing with right now, I have faith she will pull through.  There is just so much to be proud of and thankful for.  I am grateful to be an American.  "Land of the free, because of the brave!"  May God continue to bless America.

June in a Dozen Short Paragraphs

6.28.2019
^^My bare chested boys of summer!  Procrastination at its finest.  They didn't want to read or practice, so they raided my craft closet.  I helped them make the headbands.  Then they promptly went off to "war" in the backyard.  But first, a picture.^^


June in a Dozen Short Paragraphs (ish)


1.  I WON a $100 gift card to Maverick from a drawing!  Pretty cool.

2.  Levi hit Jed in the head with a two by four.  Kid has a temper.  No worries, Jed is okay and probably partially deserved it.

3.  My hormones are all out of whack again.  I know because I have felt abnormally stressed and have a very short temper the week before I start my period.  Then I feel relief when it finally starts.  (At least I recognize the severe mood swings, right?)  It means I am hopping back on birth control, bringing a year and a half stint of trying for a fourth baby to an end.  It's really bittersweet, but feels like the right thing?  I think.  Secondary infertility is the pits.  My friend Danielle empathized with me and told me that it's okay to mourn that loss, that dream.  Bless her.  I could have kissed her and cried; she understands.

Slowly, I think I am learning to trust God and His plan for me, to be content with what I've been given.  Three healthy boys are more than enough to fill my motherhood cup!

A Day at the Zoo on Summer Solstice

6.23.2019

Summer solstice.  I kind of wish we actually celebrated the day like it's a holiday because I love summer that much!  I love how it's still light outside til nearly 10PM.  I often lose track of what time it is and realize we should have eaten dinner two hours ago.  The boys are going to bed late and sleeping in.  We're not keeping to an exact schedule anymore; meaning I need 20 extra minutes to get anywhere on time.  Haha.  Our pace has finally slowed a bit.  The boys are enjoying less expectations and stress with the absence of school and I am enjoying all this extra free time with them just soaking them in, even if it does include more chaos from time to time because summer also means cuddles in bed, trips to the pool, and time to talk and to listen.  Ultimately, summer is time together as a family and more outdoor adventures, two things that make my heart and soul happy.  I love summer!

On June 21st, the longest day of the year, the boys and I made a quick day trip to Boise to visit my mom and brother.  Conrad was so excited to visit, "Gramma Kelley house!"  We enjoyed a really fun afternoon exploring Zoo Boise where Conrad took his time oogling over every animal and exhibit.  Two year olds are the best to take to the zoo!  I was glad to see that Jed and Levi haven't outgrown the excitement of it either; they actually started reading the signs and educating themselves a bit!

Afterwards, a child must have left the car door open or something because I had to find help from someone to jump my car!  But it all worked out.  We ate pizza for dinner and the kids had a blast riding down my mom's sloped driveway.  Good times and good memories.  Thanks for letting us come visit, Mom!
       

It's Baseball Season!

6.17.2019

We are right smack dab in the middle of baseball season with two evenings a week preoccupied with games!  Jed and Levi are on the same machine pitch team this year.  Unlike many of their friends, neither of my boys have become fixated on any one particular sport.  They're just out there to have fun!  (And if we're really being honest, Levi is there for the treats afterwards.  Haha.)  It definitely feels like we're the odd ball family in our little town when it comes to baseball.  What?  They're not dressed to the nines baseball pants?  But I'm okay with that.  Jed and Levi will eventually hone in on their own interests and passions, and when they do, Bron and I will be all in to support them.

This season, both Jed and Levi love to play catcher.  I've watched them excitedly volunteer as their teammates shrink away.  Jed has also improved so much since last year; it's fun to watch him swing that bat.

Finally, Moms, please tell me your kids look like this in the dugout too?!  These boys just can't seem to sit still.

^^Levi playing catcher.^^
^^Kimberly has that All American small town feeling in the summer.^^

The First Week of Summer in Photos + A Few Paragraphs About Real Life Lately

6.08.2019
We've kicked off the summer strong and hard!  I've found myself reaching for my camera often because I just love everything that screams summer and outdoors and childhood.  Our skin is sun kissed and we've been going to bed late.  I'll let the pictures tell most of the stories.  After all, a picture speaks a thousand words, right?


Three Points About Real Life Lately:

1.  First, I just want to acknowledge that the struggle is real!  There are challenges over here that come in all shapes and sizes.  (Our first week of summer together has been... intense, for lack of a better word.)  I know it's easy to assume that perhaps we live a life without problems because I seem to post only the highlight reel, but please know that our hard moments -- the ones that make us stretch and grow -- exist every day.  Some are pretty darn monotonous too.  Motherhood is as physically exhausting as it is mentally exhausting!  However, I don't like to dwell on the negative.  I'm here to celebrate motherhood and family!  I'm here to seek out beauty in the small moments of life that make me feel happy.  Please don't ever mistake my optimism for perfection.  This blog is a summary of our life, but I omit a significant amount of details/opinions to protect the image and feelings of my loved ones.


No thunderstorm was going to deter us from attending the Young's annual summer kickoff party!  It thundered and rained on and off the entire afternoon.  But the kids ate popsicles and jumped in the pool anyway.  Our friend Shonni brought six wee rescue rabbits to share.  I wish we could have brought one home with us.  Conrad's outfit killed me.  The red boots + Dad's socks + his tiny pants + a bunny = winner of best dressed for the party.  Clearly!

After the party, I took Levi to get a baby tooth pulled.  Am I the meanest mom ever?  Probably.  But no worries.  He bounced back quick.  

A Day in the Life 2019

5.29.2019

Welcome to the 7th annual Day in the Life post!  I can't believe I've been doing this for so long.  I have enjoyed documenting a day each May.  It's a lot of work, but I cannot believe how much changes from year to year.  It means so much to me to be able to click on this label and see our lives evolve right before my eyes.  Time seems to be speeding up faster and faster, and though I dig in my heels to reign it back, time marches on.  I really am trying to notice and cherish the little moments -- enjoyable and not so enjoyable -- every day.

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This year, I picked Tuesday May 21st as the day to document.  Since wrestling season ended in March, we don't have anywhere to be on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  It's really nice!  As much as the boys enjoyed wrestling, they also got tired of not having any significant down time during the week.  It's been a healthy break for the boys.  However, baseball games begin in June and so our Tuesday and Thursday evenings will be full again, but it'll be summer!  

To document for my sake, this school year Levi has piano lessons on Mondays from 4:15 - 5:00pm.  On Wednesdays, I pick the boys up from school armed with snacks and a water bottle.  We go to Jed's ukulele lesson at 4:00pm.  Afterwards, we often hit up the Twin Falls Library.  Sometimes all three boys get their hair cut.  Then I cook dinner and drive Jed into Kimberly for Scouts.

But let's talk about last Tuesday...

The 3rd Annual Nelson Camp and Climb

5.26.2019

I just made that title up, but I think it's about time this little shindig of ours got an official name.  Yes, this is the third year in a row that the Nelson crew has gotten together in the month of May to camp near Castle Rocks and go climbing the next day.

This year, Kaleb found this awesome teeny cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, and one room sleeping area in the drop dead beautiful valley of Elba, Idaho.  (In fact, if we could just pick up and move there, I might just do it!)  The cabin he rented sits on a few acres and is meant for camping and group get-togethers just like ours.  Access to some electricity, running potable water, and a bathroom made camping that much nicer.  Way to go, Kaleb in heading that up!

Unfortunately, this Spring has been the season of the never ending rains.  Rain storms have rolled through every day for nearly two weeks now and it looks as if it's going to keep on raining for another week.  Nooo!  I've been wearing a jacket everywhere because the temps are hanging out in the 40's and 50's.  Brrrr.  Idaho please reclaim your happy, sunny, dry desert self!  We miss you!  

My Feral Toddler and Spring Cleaning

5.16.2019

The weather is beautiful which means I can no longer hide my feral child under warm layers or within the walls of our home.  Conrad's new favorite activity: get naked and play in the dog water.

Remember, he poops he pants and loses his shoes too.  Wherever we go, even though I am prepared, I just can't seem to be prepared enough for whatever he throws out.  

Two is both the best and the worst age.  On one hand, Conrad is so stinking cute!  The way he talks and thinks and all the unconditional love he gives just melts me to a puddle on the floor.  (Those kisses!!)  On the other hand, he is sooo exhausting.  Conrad throws a fit over things I cannot control (Sorry, it's Thursday), makes all sorts of messes in the name of independence... poops his pants, and loses his shoes.  Heaven help me, I struggle to keep up.  But he makes me so incredibly happy.           

Spilling the Details About My First MCO Concerts

5.14.2019

Remember when I auditioned and joined the Millennial Choirs and Orchestra back in February?  Well, everything turned out better than I could have ever anticipated.

First, I have to say that the MCO repetoire has exceeded all of my expectations.  I love making music and being a part of something so much bigger than myself.  The music is legit; some of it is challenging to play -- which makes it all the more fun for me!  The repetoire's energy and emotion coupled with the solidifying testimony of the spirit is overwhelming.  It gives the production a purpose.  And since that purpose is so near and dear to my own heart, it feels worthwhile.  

The website says, "MCO was founded for the purpose of teaching and encouraging excellence in quality sacred and classical music. Its primary purpose is to fulfill the need for more refined music performance education in our communities, with a focus on God and country. Similar to the music of the masters—Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms—we are bringing God back into the concert hall with the sacred/classical music that is such a rich part of the history of the world. We feel this is vital in today’s society, particularly for the youth of America."

Spring Stories

5.09.2019

Spring is here!!!

::  Sometimes when I want to shoot just for me, I attach my old and not so reliable 50mm lens with the intent to capture what I can and practice free lensing.  It helps me let go of my perfectionism and just shoot from the heart.  My boys feel it too because these are the moments when I often capture some of my most favorite photos of them.

We had so much fun last night playing outside together on the "bike track" the big boys are obsessed with.  Some kids with a four wheeler and dirt bike put in the track on a small piece of "no man's land" a few weeks ago and now Jed and Levi (as well as their friends Caleb and Josh) have claimed it as theirs.  They've carried a shovel out there a time or two after school to make improvements.  These kids have the life!

A Special Girls' Weekend

5.07.2019

Yes, it's as crazy as you might suspect.  I spent three days at home recovering from jet lag (Poor Jessie.  She went to Hawaii.  Haha.) and then turned around to drive to Utah for a special girls' weekend with some of the ladies in my life whom I hold most close and dear to my heart.  It was completely worth it.  In fact, I kept thanking Bron over the phone for putting up with the boys tired and solo to let me do this.  I felt spiritually uplifted, deeply connected to these women, and ready to start fresh with some new goals in mind.

We all gathered at Grandma's house to attend BYU Women's Conference.  It was two full days of food (Rachel's first priority!  I love that she loves food so much.), fun, shopping, laughter, learning, and late nights.  I gleaned a number of great insights from Women's Conference, but my favorite part of the weekend was when Grandma gathered us (+ my cousin Devin) around the kitchen table Saturday morning to discuss with us some things she'd recently learned.  The gathering turned in to a testimony meeting of sorts.  Personal stories and heartaches were shared alongside some really tender spiritual experiences.

I learned three important things on Saturday morning:

1.  Learning never ends.  If my 80 something year old grandma whom I look up to so much is still learning and growing, then I definitely will be doing the same if/when I am her age.

2.  I need to periodically gather my family to openly talk about Christ and things I have learned.  It not only invites the Spirit in to teach my children, but I also become an open book sharing my mistakes and knowledge.  I don't want to be a mystery to my children.  I want them to know of the things their family has been through and ultimately conquered.  I want them to feel loved unconditionally.

3.  Heavenly Father is acutely aware of each and every one of us.  He loves us and has a plan for each of our lives.  Through Christ's atonement, he makes our mistakes and weaknesses okay.  He makes up for what we cannot do in very real ways.  Sometimes we can count those blessings and other times we can only feel His love and the love of our guardian angels.  Everything will work out one way or another; in this life or the next.  We simply need to move forward with faith, trust, and Christlike love.  Christlike love somehow solves all problems.  Oh, if only I could learn to be as wise as Jesus Christ was while he was on earth!            

A Dozen Years Together

5.05.2019

Celebrating 12 whole years together with this handsome man!  I didn't grow up with very many good examples of what a healthy relationship looked like, but this guy right here has patiently taught me how to build a marriage that is much more than just teamwork; we spend our evening hours talking, our weekends on dates, and our efforts attempting to shoulder one another's burdens.  Marriage to Bron is better than I initially imagined it ever could be.

Happy 12th Anniversary, Babe!  I love you!!!

Naughty Puppy

5.02.2019
^^Unsolicited puppy kisses.^^

Misty, our six month old puppy, has given us a couple of scares recently!  Perhaps she's just reminding us about how much we really do love her despite her efforts to dig up the yard and steal every morsel of leftover food from off the kitchen table.  We nearly lost her twice and each time I was so sad at the thought of not having her here with us at home!  So puppy, you have been ridiculously expensive and caused us more worry and stress than we deserve, but we sure love you, Misty!      

Story 1:

One and a half full days before we were to leave on our trip to St. George for Spring Break, Misty followed the boys over into the neighbor's yard and was attacked by their German Shepherd!  It's our fault; we know it and take full responsibility.  It was an awful accident.  

Jed and Levi were playing with the neighborhood kids, and though I had warned them many times not to let Misty follow them, they didn't take me seriously.  However, it took everyone by surprise when Ava, the German Shepherd, literally ripped into Misty as soon as she crossed over onto her turf.  Misty suffered a bite under one leg that was a couple inches long and deep into the muscle tissue.  Misty ran home bleeding.  The neighborhood kids were hysterical.  Jed and Levi were sobbing.   

No adults actually saw the attack.  The Young's grandma was the one who stepped out to put a stop to the dog fight.  Thank goodness!

It was a Friday evening just before 6pm.  Bron and I desperately called around but couldn't find a vet that would take her.  It was so frustrating because she needed help.  Finally, one of Bron's connections got us in touch with a vet in Jerome.  Misty had surgery that night to clean and fix up her wounds.  Thankfully the bite didn't seem to sever any nerves.  Poor baby was pretty miserable that night and felt lethargic the next day, but soon she was up and limping around on three legs.  She also wound up wearing the obnoxious "cone of shame" for a few weeks.

Greg Young graciously offered to look after Misty while we were gone on vacation.  It was hard to leave her, but we knew she was in good hands.

Everything worked out.  Misty is completely healed and back to running and bounding around on the trails.  Whew!

I just hope my neighbors know I hold no ill feelings whatsoever.  It was simply an awful accident.                

A Week in Paradise: Maui Part II

4.30.2019

We heard that Honolua Bay was one of the best places in Maui to snorkel, so on our third morning we went to check it out!  It didn't disappoint.  Just the walk from the road to the rocky shore was incredible; it was a jungle in paradise.  The water was warm and relatively clear.  And the coral reef held a wide variety of sea life.  We saw red sea anemones, a parrot fish munching on coral, eels, and a plethora of the iconic Hawaiian state trigger fish: the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.  My favorite.  It was so cool!  

A Week in Paradise: Maui Part I

4.29.2019

I'm not quite sure where to begin... except with maybe an honest but cliché phrase that we had one of the most memorable times of our lives in the land of palm trees, sun, and sea turtles: Hawaii.

Bron's work through Progessive Dairy Solutions holds an annual conference every spring.  This year, it was held in Maui.  So naturally, we flew out a few days early to get a head start on all the adventuring and fun!    

Easter 2019

4.19.2019
^^Three silly boys in the frame.  I love this!  The masks were all their idea.^^

Can there be such thing as too many egg hunts around Easter?  I think not!  These kids and their enthusiasm for every holiday tradition makes the effort worth it.  Plus, I love all the colors!

We kicked off our Easter festivities with a family gathering at the Nelson Dairy.  Grandma went above and beyond making the weekend special for all the grandkids.  And she was brave.  Saturday night, Merri Sue had everything ready for 17 of her grandchildren to dye hard boiled eggs.  I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went!  Some eggs got smashed but no dyes were dumped.  Totally a success.  The kids were so excited about their little pieces of art.  The next morning, they got to go search for their individual eggs outside before breakfast.  Brilliant!

After dying eggs, Grandma got the kids situated for a movie night with caramel popcorn.  She allowed us adult siblings and wives (+ a girlfriend) to sneak out for a group date together.  We went to an Escape Room in Idaho Falls.  It was so fun!  Together, we solved the puzzle with just barely over a minute to spare.  Woot!  Then we hit up Sonic for ice cream and slushies... where Bron accidentally dropped our ice cream and the bottom completely fell out of the cup.  It was the saddest thing, but we were all laughing.

Sunday, we watched General Conference, ate a delicious meal, cuddled my brand new nephew Blake, and watched the kids hunt for candy filled eggs in the yard.

It's always loud and chaotic with so many people under one roof (one night is about all I can handle), but the memories made are always worth it.  

On the ride home, I asked the boys what their favorite part of the weekend was.  They had so many things to say.  Then I reminded them that all those special things Grandma prepared for them is the way she shows her love; everything from preparing great food to coloring eggs to watching a movie with popcorn.  Merri Sue loves her family so much!       

"Say Cheese!"

4.18.2019

When you give Conrad a camera, he'll go outside to look for flowers.  He'll run excitedly from pretty thing to "pretty thing," (the hub caps of the car?) snapping pictures as he goes.  He'll command you and the dog to, "Say Cheese!"  You'll laugh and smile because this is undoubtedly the cutest thing you've seen in a while.

Like mother like son.  I am such a proud mama.

Today I charged up my 10+ year old digital camera; the camera I used before Jed was born.  It still works!  Well enough for a toddler anyway.

^^Conrad spies a yellow dandelion!^^

The Quote About Parenting I Need on My Wall

4.17.2019

“Parenting has nothing to do with perfection.  Perfection isn't even the goal.  Not for ourselves or for our children.  Learning together to live well in an imperfect world, loving each other despite or even because of our own imperfections, and growing as humans while we grow our little humans, those are the goals.  So don't ask yourself at the end of the day if you did everything right.  Ask yourself what you learned and how well you loved, then grow from your answer.  That is perfectly imperfect parenting.” ❤️
-L.R. Knost