A Good Friend is Priceless


^^From a very messy lipstick game we played with our husbands for Valentine's Day^^

It’s good to know that these last dreary weeks of winter haven’t affected just me; they’ve had a nasty affect on just about all the moms I know around here. Because of the cold we’re stuck inside day after day going through the motions of taking care of our home and children. It can get a bit monotonous and lonely! (Though I must say I would rather be a stay-at-home mom than have Bron’s job any day.) I’ve experienced my own personal rollercoaster of highs and lows this month: a terrible week, followed by a pick-me-up, chased down by a great week until the sadness begins to creep in again.

Well, we mamas decided it was about time for a girls’ night out! Even though it was a Monday night, our husbands agreed we needed it. They gladly came home from work to babysit so that we ladies could have several hours of uninterrupted free time.

Only four of us were actually able to go, but we lived it up as best we knew how anyway. We spent over two hours at Chili’s, snarfing daintily inhaling appetizers followed by real meals we couldn’t possibly finish. Ironically, we talked about our children a lot; we exchanged stories and laughed. Then instead of heading to the fun center to play some rousing games of air hockey and other juvenile amusements like we’d planned, we browsed through Target. (Okay, so what woman can get through Target without spending a few dollars? Honestly. I think it’s nearly impossible; she’d have to leave her wallet in the car.) We finally made it home around 10PM feeling refreshed. And since Amy’s girls were camped out on my couch (Nik and Bron are good friends too) we four stayed up till midnight talking in the kitchen. It was only when I started leaking milk through my shirt that we called it a night!

I am so happy we moved here to this neighborhood where there are many other families much like ours.  I used to think it was rare to find other couples where both women and both men could really befriend one another. Apparently it doesn’t have to be rare. There are several families we love getting together with. Bron is anxious about the day it will end, when life happens and people move away or move on. I tell him not to worry. Change is inevitable and usually gradual. All we really have is the present.

I feel really lucky to have friends in my life. I don’t think I could get along well without them because friendship and service go hand in hand. Over the past year and a half I have learned so much about service.

When I was just too tired to think straight after Levi was born, my friend Amy took Jed for an entire afternoon! I will never forget that. It probably wasn’t a big deal to her, but it meant so much to me. Just yesterday, Amy offered to watch Jed for an hour during Levi’s nap so I could run on the treadmill—guilt free. It’s hard to exercise when I feel bad about plopping Jed in front of the tv! Though that can’t possibly become a regular routine, it was just what I needed. And since I’m feeling good from yesterday, I want to pay it forward. I called another friend who just had a baby and offered to take her older girls for a few hours because I remembered how much it helped me.

And so the cycle continues. We women really do need one another. Even if it’s just a phone call or stopping by to say, “Hi, let’s go for a walk with the kids,” I know it makes a difference.

I think we women put too much pressure on ourselves to be ideal: to have a spotless home, to look great all the time, to have perfectly behaved children, to never lose our patience with said children, etc. etc. (At least I know I feel this way!) Things like picture-perfect blogs and pinterest don’t help the cause. And that’s why I think it is imperative to have real friends: ones who I see aren’t wearing makeup either, whose dishes are in the sink, who are feeling a little tired… because that’s reality!

I’ve also learned many good tricks from these real friends about parenting: ideas on how to potty train, tips on getting my toddler to eat his vegetables, encouragement to be strong through that tantrum, and more! These women are my backup support system because they understand, because they love their families with just as much intensity as I do.

A good friend is priceless and I am so grateful for the ones I have.

^^Our beloved and well smooched husbands^^

P.S.  Our good friend Anna is flying in from New York this weekend!!!  I've been out of my mind excited all month!

Snapshots of Life Lately


Other than spending the weekend at the State Wrestling Tournament, nothing too exciting has been going on over here.  It's been cold so we've been hanging out at home on the floor with toys.  
Life is good.
 Brotherly Love.  
Moments like this don't seem to last long enough since Jed enjoys bowling his little brother over and "wrestling" him.  But Levi is tough and seems to actually enjoy it... most of the time.
 An afternoon walk on a rare warm winter day.  
Notice Jed has a truck in each hand.  He's done that since he could grasp.
 Even "milking" boots can be cute when they're miniature!
 Jed plastered stickers all over and colored Valentine's Day cards for his grandparents and cousins.  It was a fun morning at the Nelson home.
 Glued to a movie and eating popcorn... yeah, on his bed.
 The best way to keep a baby entertained is to fill the living room up with toys so that wherever he scoots or rolls there is something to play with.  Those toys often live there for several days before we clean them up and start again with a slightly different variety.  I don't think that makes me a bad or lazy mom; I think it makes me realistic.
 Sip that sippy
King Kong of the legos! 
Is something funny, Levi?
In other news, I think I have finally accepted that I cannot accomplish my "to-do" list in one fowl swoop like I used to be able to do.  The best part is that I am okay with it.  It used to be much easier to pound out my "to-do" list with just one child in tow.  Two, however, has forced me to change my game.  I do the dishes, fill a little need, play on the floor, empty the trash, fill a little need, sort some laundry, play on the floor, fill a little need, make a phone call, fill a little need, etc. etc.  It takes all day, but my list gets done.  And if it doesn't?  Well, there's always tomorrow.  No biggie.  I feel accomplished and my boys have been given plenty of love and attention throughout the day.  Awesome points for me!
And now I am off to feed and bathe my little men.
Good night!

Mattress in the Den


Hey Bron,

Remember that Saturday we were bored so we dropped a hundred dollars on paint and supplies then came home and started painting our bedroom? Well, actually you painted it; I kept the kids occupied.

We moved our mattress into the den. We’ve been sleeping in there every night since. And you know what? I actually kind of like it. It’s harder to hear Levi cry at 3AM in there. Plus, I think you and I have logged some extra quality snuggle time. We napped on our mattress on Sunday afternoon.  We've also cuddled up to watch movies there too. We even broke a cardinal rule and ate cookie dough on our bed!   It reminds of those weekends when we were first married, how we used to stay up late and camp out in the living room.

This week has been fun, but I think I’m ready to move back into our real bedroom. I’m looking forward to making it a peaceful, relaxing, romantic place for just you and me to enjoy. And I think the new soft sky blue color is the perfect beginning.  See you tonight!

With love,

The Potty + Jed


Disclaimer: This post talks about poop and pee.  If you're not turned off already, keep reading!

It's official: Jed is a big boy!  To put it bluntly, he can now pee in the toilet by himself.  I never thought something like pee in a toilet would make me feel so proud, but it does.  I am one hundred percent a mommy of a toddler.

Jed actually surprised me with how quickly he picked it up!  I've heard so many horror stories from moms of boys about potty-training that I was terrified.  I originally didn't plan on potty-training Jed till around his third birthday in April, but when he started showing signs of interest--such as wanting to sit on the toilet to pee after his older friends did--I changed my mind.  What difference would a few months make anyway?

So about two weeks ago I went to the store and picked up a soft toddler sized toilet seat (to make sitting more comfortable for Jed and with a lip to catch those flyaway yellow streams), some thicker training underwear (for less puddles on the floor), and reward candy (peanut-butter M&M's).  

I'm not sure how many hours I've spent sitting on that cold tile floor reading books to Jed while he happily sat there.  By day three I was exhausted from running him to the bathroom three times each hour and cleaning up what seemed like endless messes.  Jed would yell, "I pee!" and we would run to the bathroom... always just a little too late.  Each time I would stay positive and tell him it was a good try.  Nobody told me how stressful potty-training can be!  But I knew I couldn't stop because Jed headed straight to the bathroom upon waking up that morning.  And I'm glad I didn't quit because day three was when it clicked. 

Yes, on day three Jed got it!  Sometime that afternoon he ran to the bathroom on his own and came out without pants and a grin on his face.  "I pee!  I pee!"  He was soooo happy!  I went in to check.  Indeed, he had peed!  I was euphoric!  We did a little happy dance, I hugged and kissed Jed a hundred times, and then let him watch a mickey mouse cartoon via utube on the tablet.

For a few days, toons as we call them around here, were Jed's motivation and reward for going to the bathroom.  Now he's happy with some candy.  But mostly, I think the satisfaction of being called a big boy and having dry underwear is reward enough for him.  I can tell Jed is proud of himself too.  He knows he is smart and capable.

I think it is safe to say that Jed is well on his way to being completely potty-trained.  I'm sure I'll have a summer full of accidents, but for now Jed keeps his pants dry all day long, even through nap time.  (Say whaat?!?)  He tells me when he has to go and sometimes even runs to the bathroom all by himself.  It's amazing!!!  We're still working on the whole poop thing though.  I couldn't get out of potty training without a good poop story!

Jed's First Good Poop Story:

Last week, Bron was working late and I was getting the boys ready for bed.  I got them both out of the bathtub at the same time.  I thought, "Jed is pretty much potty-trained.  I'll hurry and get Levi all ready for bed and then get Jed.  What are the chances he'll poop?"

Well, apparently those chances were pretty darn high!  Jed came running into Levi's bedroom streaked in brown from the waist down and reaking of turd.  I paused and silently freaked out while taking in the situation, wondering how bad it really was.  Then I flew into a flurry of action: I placed Levi under his mobile in the crib, plopped Jed in yet another bath, and then went back through the house with a box of wipes to assess the poop situation.

Of all the square footage of tile in this house, Jed had to be in the one room with carpet.  Apparently, when Jed finally realized he was pooping he got up and ran to the bathroom, but not before he stepped in a huge chunk of the warm brown stuff.  There was a trail of poop stains from the den, through the hallway, on the living room carpet, and smeared all over the bathroom.  Gross.  Just plain smelly and gross.

I got the kids all cleaned up and put to bed about the time Bron arrived home.  I went to him for a hug.

"Wanna help me clean up some turd stains in the carpet?" I asked.
Bron laughed.  "So that's what smells funny in here!"
I couldn't help laughing either.  

Oh, the joys of parenting!  I knew these days would come.  

On the Day of Love


On the day of love I decorated the house in hearts... at midnight.  I unknowingly started a Valentine tradition last year when I waited till the last minute to put some love themed decor up around the house and was rewarded with the sweetest smiles of excitement and surprise from Jed.  So of course I had to do it again!  It didn't work quite as well this year because honestly, I couldn't roll my rear end out of bed.  But we did have a fantastic breakfast that included bacon (breakfast is always awesome when it includes bacon!), fresh pineapple, kiwis, and pink puffed pancakes.  It was delicious!  We definitely started the day off right.  (Oh yeah, and we also got to eat leftover red velvet cupcakes that we delivered to our neighbors the day before!)

Bron waltzed through the door--like the knight in shining armor that he is--around noon bearing gifts of strawberries (for Jed and I to share because they are our favorite food) and red roses.  *Awww*  Then Bron insisted that I get out of the house... alone; that means without children in tow.  He planned to work via computer and hold down the fort at the same time.  You bet I kissed that handsome man!

You see, I've been struggling lately trying to find my way out of an awful funk.  I seem to slide into this miserable depression every year about this same time.  I suspect I might suffer from a bit of seasonal depression.  And so far, I haven't found a good solution for combating it.

During this last week I've wanted to curl up and sleep all day.  I've lost the motivation to exercise, to tackle projects.  And since Jed is good at pushing my buttons anyway, my patience has been extremely short with him though I realize it's not really his fault.  Cute things like bear hugs from Jed and laughter from Levi also ceased to brighten my day.  It feels like everything in my life is wrong when in reality, nothing is wrong at all!

In short, I've been miserable and that in turn makes everyone else around me miserable.   

I've thought, "Maybe I need to count my blessings... maybe I need more sleep... maybe I need to adjust my attitude..."  I've definitely gone the rounds with myself.

So when Bron offered several hours of blissful freedom from my round the clock responsibilities (read: children) I was elated!  I felt a little naked as I jumped into the car without my big diaper bag and headed to town.

I went tanning.  (Vitamin D!)
    *Note: I do not condone regular tanning.  Skin cancer + leathery skin isn't very appealing.  This is the first time I've gone in YEARS. 
I drank a coke.  (I hardly ever drink soda.)  
I got my wedding ring cleaned.  (It's so shiny!)
I got a pedicure.  (Sooo relaxing!  Plus, I've got cute toes now.)
I perused the thrift store.  (And found Jed the cutest pair of miniature "milking" boots for $3)
I ate Cafe Rio.  (Mmm... pork.  Get in my tummy!)
And then... I went home feeling relaxed and smiling from ear to ear.

I feel like I pressed the RESTART button.  I feel refreshed.  I feel like I can do this.  I can get through these next few weeks.  I am not a lousy wife or mom.  Spring will come and it is all going to be okay.  (If all else fails, I can go into town each week for a tan and a soda until April.)  Weirdly, life is mostly good again.  Sometimes this mama just needs some "sunshine" and a break, I think.

And so we topped off Valentine's Day at the Young's home.  We couples played some silly games and ate chocolate fondue.  I'm so glad we've found friends whom I don't feel too embarrassed around when I've got red lipstick smeared all over my face!  We laughed and talked and kept the kids up too late.  We had a lot of fun!   

And that concludes my long version of Valentine's 2013.

***I know I've got the kind of husband women dream about.  He is genuinely good to me and loves me unconditionally.  I don't know how I deserved to be so lucky.  I love Bron.  He is truly my other half.

Thank you, Bron!  For this life I have with you, our children, everything.  I love you.

Destined to Become a Classic


It's a beautiful February day!  
We played in the sunshine this morning with some neighbor friends.
I'm so excited for these kids to grow up together because it's going to be a riot and a half.
(Plus, I really like their mamas!)
One day as teenagers, I hope they will look back on pictures like this and laugh... cuz I'm laughing now!



Happy Valentine's Day!
We hope you're feeling the love today.
Love, The Nelson Family

Today I'll be holding my boys closer and for just a little bit longer. 
I'll use the holiday as an excuse to smooch their cute cheeks a little extra.  
And I think I just might spoil them a little bit.  
As a wife and mother, Valentine's is the sweetest. 
I'm so glad there's an entire day dedicated to declaring my love for my family in such a fun way!

P.S.  I would totally stage some pictures with Jed in them, but he's a two year old boy and therefore does not pose.  I'm enjoying my little immobile model while I've got him!

A Peek at Our Weekend


 We had another fantastically relaxing winter weekend which included...

 :: A hot date to the temple Friday night with my Love.  Then we summed up the evening at Five Guy's.  Mmmm!  It was wonderful for us to get out, not so wonderful for our poor babysitter who tended a fussy mommy-sick baby.  (Levi is very attached to his mama.)

:: A snowstorm!  We didn't get nearly the amount of snow as folks on the east coast did this weekend, but nonetheless, beautiful fat silent flakes fell all day long Friday covering everything in several inches of that fluffy white stuff.

:: The little boys and I ventured out to play in the snow Saturday morning.  Jed struggled to pick up a giant snowball.  Then he licked it.

:: Jed and I made a little snowman in the backyard.  His favorite part was putting the arms on.

:: Pottty training for Jed!  It's exhausting.  (More on that later.)

 :: Bron came home sore but happy from a day spent skiing in fresh powder on the slopes with a friend

:: Admiring my baby from head to foot.  I admit it, I have a baby foot fettish.  Oh, those tiny fat toes!
And that cute little tummy?  It just begs to be tickled!

:: Late afternoon games like air hockey, hide-and-seek, "wrestling", and finger plays with my boys

:: Making warm gooey chocolate chip cookies

***I hope your weekend was just as warm and sweet.***

Deja Vu


Every once in a while something happens and I am instantly thrown back in time.  Nostalgia hits as a memory replays itself in my mind.  And then I smile... because recently they've been really good memories.  But the best part is I'm reliving them again.

A few days ago when I dressed Levi in his gray shirt and jeans, I laughed out loud and couldn't help finishing his outfit up with some red sneakers and a faux hawk.  Then I promptly went to town photographing my happy baby in the living room.  You see, I remembered Jed handsomely sporting the same outfit, at about the same age.

Take a look!
Jed at 5 months old
September 2010

Levi just shy of 6 months old
January 2013

Then when I put Levi on the changing table while Jed slept the afternoon away, (Because why would two little children sleep at the very same time?  That's just silly.) I quickly grabbed my camera.  History was repeating itself: same outfit, same interest in toes.  And in that moment, I felt a little sad about the baby that's gone forever and smiled at the one in front of me.

Jed at 6 months old
October 2010

Levi at 6 months old
February 2013

And ohh, the sloppy slobber kisses!  Don't get me started.  I am thoroughly enjoying this stage of Levi's development.  I remember when Jed used to suck on my chin too.  Babies sure do know how to wriggle their way into their mama's hearts.

I love my little boys!  Round two seems to be flying by faster than the first, but it is equally fun.  I hope to experience many more of these deja vu moments in the years to come.

Also, notice those photography skills.  I think they've improved a bit over the last two years!  Woohoo!

Snapshots of Life Lately


The sun is shining and the snow is melting!  Can I get three cheers for that?
Hip, hip, hooray!  Hip, hip, hooray!  Hip, hip, hooray!
I've begun bundling the boys up and going for runs outside again.  Sunshine and fresh air never felt so good.
May the last few weeks of winter fly by.

Until then, enjoy a picture purge from happenings inside the Nelson home:

Levi "helping" me empty the dishwasher
Jed loves his Lightning McQueen (also known as "keen") coloring book.  Slowly but surely, not every color will be "bue" (blue).
Levi rocking a faux hawk and red sneakers.  Kill me; he's too cute!
Snoozing on the couch
bulldozer + cereal
tractor + mac 'n cheese
Are you noticing a pattern here?  
I love how Levi puts his arm around my neck, especially after a particularly rough night (for me, obviously).
It feels like a hug and I can't get enough!  By the way, Levi is also the world's best sloppy kisser.  I don't mind my cheeks and chin soaked in his slobber one bit; it's too sweet.
puzzles on the tablet
This boy loves his groceries!  The other night he ate an entire banana plus some veggies too.  Wow.
colorful jellies are the coolest window treatments
Levi lets us know he's happy with delightful little half-screams and squeals all day long
Jed at breakfast one morning.  I've always been in love with his smile.

And just before you go believing that life with two little boys is all rainbows and unicorns, it's really not.
Bron and I tease that Jed inherited each of our worst traits because Jed has really been pushing the limits of my patience these last few weeks.  The whiiiining, the fits, and the fact that Jed is so darn stubborn make me want to throttle him and drop him off on the street corner to leave behind forever.  But I don't.  I walk away for a breather.  Sometimes I yell.  Then I feel guilty.  Developing consistent patience and good mothering habits is terribly hard to do!  I think more little daily prayers are in order.
I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.

Sunday Best


Just because Levi is the cutest accessory to any outfit!

I love being a mother.
And I love my new dress.  Thanks Bron!

Six of the Sweetest Months


Just one year.  That's all I get with each of my babies before they start sprouting into little toddlers.  
Just one year of babyhood.  It doesn't seem like enough!  The time speeds by too fast.  

And though there have been moments when I wish I could fast forward to a more independent child,
intuitively, I know that right now I am living in some of the most precious moments of my life.  

These days of smiles and giggles, of chubby thighs and tiny fists, 
of holding him close and rocking him to sleep in the night, 
will pass quicker than I expect.  

I find myself counting my blessings.  
I am so thankful for this season of my life to be a young mother,
as busy and tiresome as it is, as hard as it is

...because my focus, my love, my entire being has shifted
and I have never been happier or more whole.

I hope I cherish these days for exactly what they are.  
And I hope my babies know that I love them.... so very, very much!

No matter how big you grow, you will always be my baby, Levi.

 Just had to throw this one in here!  Poor baby, but a good crying picture just makes me laugh.
(Note: No babies were neglected in the making of this picture.)
 Ahhh, just look at that delicious fat baby!
 His smiles endear him to me.  Those cheeks are irresistible.

Levi at Six Months:

:: Levi is chronically happy!  His dad calls him "Smiles" because all it takes is a look from any person and Levi will grin and smile in return.  Baby Boy knows how to work it too; he has me smiling all day long.
:: Extremely good-natured even when he has a stuffy nose  (I suspect he's teething too!)
:: Fascinated with his toes and his brother.
:: BIG blue eyes and expressive eyebrows
:: Loves his groceries: both mama's milk and solid food.  He especially enjoys food with flavor, like fruit or chocolate or a greasy piece of bacon.  (Yup, I let him suck on a piece of bacon.)  Therefore he is sturdy and chunky and practically the size of a one year old.  Why do we women love our babies so fat?
:: Levi can sit!  He can also roll over from back to front and around again, though back again is still a challenge.
:: Is a fan of Mom blowing raspberries on his neck
:: Often puts an arm around my neck.  It feels like he's hugging me and I can't get enough.
:: The world's best sloppy kisser.
:: Little dare-devil.  Levi laughs and grins when we dance and spin and do some upside-down dipping.
:: Enjoys grabbing anything he comes in contact with and promptly stuffs it in his mouth; it's a good game.  He especially likes towels and blankets.  I think they're easy to grab and feel good on his gums.
:: Drools.  A lot.  It is not atypical for him to soak three bibs in a day.
:: Unusually content to sit and play while I get something done
:: Gives the best grins and laughs when we play peek-a-boo
:: Grips my fingers when he nurses
:: Doesn't mind his cheeks squished and smooched on a gazillion times a day
:: Sucks his thumb.  Levi has always preferred something fleshy over a chewy pacifier.  (So I never pushed the pacifier.)
:: Sits on my lap through almost every meal
:: Is busy, busy, busy!  His hands must be grasping or his mouth must be gnawing
:: Sleeping better.  Finally!
:: Is very much attached to his mama.  I don't mind a bit because I'm pretty attached to him!
:: Levi is the sunshine to my day.  He is so sweet and I am so smitten with him.

Levi, thanks for your infectious smile, your happy go-lucky attitude, and your bright and sweet spirit.  I know you were meant to be mine.  You've only been here half a year, but already I can't imagine my life or our family without you.  I love you! -Mama

Take a peek back in time to read Jed's 6 Month Report!
My favorite part is the last paragraph.

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