2014-08-19 08.14.43

Second First Day of Preschool

I think preschool is really the only “grade” you don’t have to be embarrassed about doing more than once.  If anything, attending multiple years is bragworthy amongst the parents which makes for amusing chit-chat during pick-up and drop-off.

2014-08-19 08.13.03
Getting ready to head in the building.

This year Cooper is at a new school, the one within walking distance of our house. It’s definitely a different crowd from last year as we’ve swapped parents smoking in their cars for parents that camped out overnight to get their kids registered. (I wish I was joking about this. For the record, I was able to just waltz in prior to open registration since Cooper was a transfer student. There are very few things I’m willing to wait in line overnight for.)

Backpack, backpack!
Hanging up his backpack.

Cooper practically sprinted to preschool this morning, but then was his usual tentative self when we arrived.  Ellen was really sad to say goodbye to Cooper the preschool and burst into tears when we left. She wants to be a big kid so badly. Cooper gets to attend school for free due to his ASD, but I’m afraid we might need to save up or start a joy school so she can go to preschool next year. I won’t allow myself to dream about all the marvelous things I could do if they were both gone for a few hours.

Surveying
Ellen assessing the splash pad situation.

After we picked Cooper up we met up with some friends to check out a new splash pad.

Water! Water!

The kids weren’t actually interested in the water until I told them it was time to go, of course.

Hard life

On the way home both of the kids passed out. Apparently being a preschooler is exhausting.

Geocaching

Summer Lovin’

Apparently, summer is over. I’m still not sure how that happened. Three months ago when preschool ended I made a master list of things I wanted to do. I even divided it into categories and made a master schedule for what days of the week I would attack different types of goals. Then I never looked at it until yesterday. Instead of feeling bummed that I didn’t successfully micromanage our summer, I’m doing a recap of the fun things we did do (and even without careful scheduling we did manage to do a few of the things on my list).

In addition to meeting our new cousin/nephew, camping, and hosting visitors we’ve also gone to weekly summer clubhouse movies,

Movies

had weekly park days with friends,

Park Day

attended art playdates hosted by my talented friend,

Art Playdate

splashed in the pool in the backyard,

Yard Poolvisited The Splash (Cooper is a water slide addict!),

The Splash enjoyed lots of rain (it has been such a mild summer here), 
Rainjust chilled in the backyard,

Chillin'

considered starting a nudist colony repeatedly found Ellen wandering around in all sorts of outfits,  some more preferable to others,

Nudist

Puddle jumpingVisited the Botanic Gardens with our friends Russell and Jessica,

Wading Climbingfound a few geocaches (the kids love it since it’s like treasure hunting),

Geocachingeaten ice cream,

Ice creamfinally taken a ride on the 1¢ horse at the grocery store, 

all over town Ride the horsey indulged in donuts after our last summer speech session,

donuts! and found Ellen sleeping all sorts of places since she fights naps, but still needs them now and again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOverall, I’d say summer wasn’t too shabby. Only a whole school year before we get another shot at it.

The best picture we could get of us on our trip to the Botanic Garden.

Suddenly We’re Those People

What happens when Ellen won't settle for anything less than being held when I'm trying to make dinner.
What happens when Ellen won’t settle for anything less than being held when I’m trying to make dinner.

When we only had one kid, it was easier to hide, but now that we have two kids it’s painfully obvious. We’ve become those people. You know the people I speak of. The ones that make you want to avoid any type of free day at the museum, the ones you don’t want to sit behind in church, and definitely not the ones you want to be sitting next to on a cross country flight. This last week has been full of reminders that this is what we’ve become. A trip to the Botanic Garden spent herding kids that were unwittingly engaged in a constant game of chicken with all the other patrons. Our final summer movie where Ellen refused to sit in her seat, almost got in a brawl with a toddler that tried to steal her chair, and shouted commentary during the entire film (e.g. “Silly squirrel” followed by maniacal laugher. “It’s a dog! Woof, woof!” followed by more maniacal laughter.)  Then Saturday when we did some rare shopping, Ellen threw a huge tantrum because she’s on a nap strike and Cooper kept disappearing which had us in a perpetual clothing rack frisking frenzy.

Ellen insisting on getting her own utensils.
Ellen insisting on getting her own utensils and yes she’s not wearing pants. She rarely does these days. 

To top off the week we went to church. Our pew was sandwiched between two friends who each have a small child. As we wrestled our kids and tried to put a quiet end to their orchestration of raspberry blowing we’d exchange glances that said, “I know, sometimes I wonder why we ever come out in public too.” At the end of the meeting we all stumbled out into the hall, our arms full of discarded shoes and broken crayons. We gave each other pats on the back and politely said thank you to the widows  and women without children who told us they just love to watch our children at church.

Super Cooper eating blueberries. Or is it that he thought I wouldn't recognize him in disguise and he'd miss a lecture on not eating all the berries!
Super Cooper eating blueberries. Or is it that he thought I wouldn’t recognize him in disguise and he’d miss a lecture on not eating all the berries in one sitting!

Even though most days leave me exhausted, I’m glad I have these little people that remind me to live in the moment. There are perks to being those people after all. No one tells you you’re too big to go down the tube slide at the park or questions your sanity when you dance in the aisles of the grocery store.  Even the low expectations of strangers is kind of nice since they’ll congratulate you when your toddler only throws one fit when waiting in a long line at the post office. We weren’t always those people and from what I’m promised we won’t always be them either, but for know I’m just doing my best to hang on to the ride and not get thrown off.

The best picture we could get of us on our trip to the Botanic Garden.
The best picture we could get of us on our trip to the Botanic Garden.
The crew at Mayflower Gulch.

Annie and Greg Came to Town

Noel is pretty much the same age as all of his cousins and they’ve always been fairly close, even with him being the odd  man out. (Pun intended; they’re all girls.) It’s been fun for me to be adopted into this group since my cousins and I have a much larger age difference. Last week, Annie and her fiancé, Greg, stayed with us for a few days and we also got Jaimie and her husband, Wolfgang, who are now Denverites to join us for an evening. We showed them some of the sights, but made sure to leave some out so they’d be tempted to come back. Okay, so really we just forgot the Pro Cycling Challenge happens this time of year and would make it so Mt Evans was closed, but we’d still love for them to visit again.

PS It’s World Breastfeeding week and I am running a sale in my shop. If you or a friend are in the market for nursing covers or swaddle blankets you should check it out.

Best buds hanging out in grandma's yard.

A Few Gems of the Kids

My mom takes amazing photos. She’s beautifully documented so many important events in my life from my wedding to graduating from college to bringing home my babies.  Pretty sure I’ve been the recipient of thousands of dollars worth of free professional photography over the years. Every time we visit I usually get some awesome pictures of the kids.  Here are some gems from out most recent trip to Utah.

Ellen loved her photo shoot with grandma. Definitely not camera shy.
Ellen loved her photo shoot with grandma. Definitely not camera shy.
Ellen sweetly kissing Porter's head.
Ellen sweetly kissing Porter’s head.
Cooper lost deep in thought. That little boy sure can be pensive sometimes.
Cooper lost deep in thought. That little boy sure can be pensive sometimes.
It's sometimes hard to capture Cooper's smile on camera since he's not a poser like Ellen, but the kid has a great smile.
It’s sometimes hard to capture Cooper’s smile on camera since he’s not a poser like Ellen, but the kid has a great smile.
Even though Ellen is a girl, she's generally the wrestle instigator. Luckily Cooper's a good sport.
Even though Ellen is a girl, she’s generally the wrestle instigator. Luckily Cooper’s a good sport.
Best buds hanging out in grandma's yard.
Best buds hanging out in grandma’s yard.
Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells

Family Pic at Lake
Two years ago we went camping at Maroon Bells.  It was an enjoyable experience and we’ve been wanting to go back ever since. Campsites at Maroon Bells itself are pretty hard to come by, especially on weekends, so I had a reminder in my google calendar to make a reservation the second the sites opened up for our chosen days. Months ago that Google reminder popped up and I made a reservation hoping for a nice calm getaway, completely unaware that the trip would end up being bookended by a trip to Utah and Noel going to Scout camp.  Such is life.

Chris and Vanessa scrubbing the Volcano.
Chris and Vanessa scrubbing the Volcano.

We invited Noel’s sister, Vanessa Joy, and her husband, Chris to come with us. After a near death experience earlier this year, we figured they could use some R&R.

The whole crew at Maroon Lake.
The whole crew at Maroon Lake.

Despite the insanity surrounding the trip, we did our best to relax. Not having cell phone reception at our campground greatly aided that.

Ellen insisted on carrying her sleeping bag to our campsite.
Ellen insisted on carrying her sleeping bag to our campsite.
I loved our campground. You took a short trail to get it so it was nice and secluded.
I loved our campsite.  You took a short trail to get it so it was nice and secluded. This picture is taken from the “dining area” so the campground was also pretty spacious.
"Relaxing" in the hammock.
“Relaxing” in the hammock.

We did an ambling “hike” with everyone and Noel and I went on a hike alone while Vanessa and Chris kindly watched the kids.

Taking a break on our walk around the lake.
Taking a break on our walk around the lake.
Noel and me at Crater Lake, no not the one in Oregon.
Noel and me at Crater Lake, no not the one in Oregon.
A moose we saw at the lake.
A moose we saw at the lake.

The kids slept worse than they ever have on a camping trip and we experienced some frustrating potty training setbacks. (It seems Cooper was terrified to poop in the vault toilets . . . )

Kids messing around instead of sleeping.
Kids messing around instead of sleeping.

Somehow Vanessa and Chris still thought the kids were adorable though. Phew.

 Holding Hands
Holding hands with Uncle Chris.
Aunt Vanesa Joy feeding Ellen cake for breakfast.
Aunt Vanesa Joy feeding Ellen cake for breakfast. Best breakfast ever.

And because this is us, we also ate delicious food. Keep an eye on our food blog for all the recipes!

Dutch oven summer vegetable tian. Simply delicious.
Dutch oven summer vegetable tian. Simply delicious.

All too quickly, we had to pack up and head our separate ways.  We said our goodbyes to the beautiful scenery. When we got reception again Noel’s phone rang a million times with messages so I drove home so he could take care of scouting business.

Chris and Vanessa brought the kids Toy Story toys (and cleverly assigned three toys to each of them so they wouldn't fight.
Chris and Vanessa brought the kids Toy Story toys (and cleverly assigned three toys to each of them so they wouldn’t fight).

I’ll have to add another reminder to my google calendar so we can do this again next year, only hopefully not the day before Scout camp.

Creek

cousins

4th of July

When we moved to Colorado four years ago we didn’t fall into the category of people that are devastated to leave “Zion.”  I can honestly say that Colorado is “home” and that I love living here, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a little homesick for Utah every now and again. With the birth of my first nephew I was especially missing many of the things in Utah that are near and dear to my heart, so we decided to make a quick trip over the Fourth of July.

Colorado Heart

Getting out of town was a little hectic. There were loose ends to tie up, friend’s kids to watch, a half day of work for Noel, and most importantly, a hair appointment to keep. I absolutely loved my long hair, but was ready for change (and was maybe getting tired of a certain little girl twirling my hair into knots). I took 12″ off my longest layer to send off to Locks of Love and then headed home to pack and load the car.

HaircutWe rolled into my hometown well after midnight. The kids had the hugest grins on their faces when they woke up the next morning at Grandma’s house.

cooper car
Cooper cruising around on my parent’s beautiful driveway. Photo by my mom.
silly grandpa
Being silly with Grandpa. Photo by my mom.
Being trained in the art of bagging by Uncle Mitchell.
Being trained in the art of bagging by Uncle Mitchell.

The highlight of the trip was of course meeting Porter. I wish I had more frequent opportunities to snuggle him, but I made the most of the time I had.

I'm an aunt!
Me performing my first duty as an Aunt.
Manly Snuggles
Noel adopted the role of Uncle well.
cousins
Cooper and Ellen were smitten with Baby Porter. They were also surprisingly careful which was a relief. Photo by my mom.

While in Utah, I was reminded of a few things I miss, like having relatives around who can watch the kids,

Waterfall
On a hike with my Dad, Joe, and Joes mom, Anita.
Noel, Waterfall, and Me
Posing in front of the waterfall at the end of our hike.

living so close to a temple (I know a 1/2 hour drive is nothing to complain about, but I miss the days when I could walk to the temple.),

I love to see the temple
On a pre-church walk around the Brigham City, UT temple.

and of course, the cheese factory.

Cheap CheeseWe ended our trip by driving through Bear Lake. We went on a little hike, ate raspberry shakes, and went wading.

HikingWater

Then we hopped in the car and made the long drive back home.

Watching movies in the backseat.
Watching movies in the backseat.

It was a good trip and I think it will tide me over until our next visit.

PS In case you were wondering,  it turns out Cooper is still not a fan of peacocks.

Peacock
Posing with Percy the Peacock at my grandparents house.

Mormon Message About Autism

I swear the people that work on the Mormon Messages are evil righteous geniuses. I feel like almost every one that I’ve seen has made me teary-eyed, but this one in particular had me full out crying. I guess you could say it struck a chord.

Ellen and Cooper are already good friends (they’re also excellent at squabbling) and I’ve had several people tell me they’re lucky to have each other and that they’ll help each other grow in different ways. I think they’re right.

PS I also found this interview about the making of the movie interesting.

Up, up, up

Competition

It seems my kids now have some competition for favorite grandkid, so I knew a post about my kids was in order to remind everyone who really has the best kids. Alright, so their cousin is pretty dang adorable and I am as smitten as anyone (and dying to meet him)! We’ll let him be the favorite grandkid for now . . .

PorterStill, an update is in order. We’ve had a lot of rain this spring which has been awesome for all our plants, lots of fun for the kids, and a challenge for my stain removal skills. 

Mud!

Our plants are thriving and already so much bigger than last year.

Right SideWe still have a long list of things to do that we are slowly chipping away at as our budget allows, but in the meantime we’ve got a bunch of watermelon plants and tomatoes in pots in the undone areas. Still doesn’t look too bad though.

Left Side

Ellen has discovered the joys of spraying herself with the hose.

Hose FunCooper is practicing his tree climbing. Okay, so I helped him get up on the branch, but he’s getting pretty close to doing it himself.

Monkey in a tree

Coop, CoopEllen is throwing out societal expectations and gender stereotypes. She LOVES playing in dirt which is fine with me, but I wish she’d be more agreeable about wearing pants sometimes.

Girls Love Dirt!The kids have been “helping” us with yard work.

Up, up, upEllen has found one more undesired use for the dinner table. Others include: a giant napkin, canvas, and dance floor.

Table SnoozeMy youngest brother has decided to go to Utah State next year, so these pictures are for him. Go Aggies!

Little Aggies

Go Aggies! Noel used the money he won from our race to buy himself a hammock. He’d had a rough couple of weeks with injuries, illness, and other stressors so he is due for some relaxation. Now, if only the kids would give it to him.

Hammock On Father’s Day Ellen refused to go down for a nap for me and kept yelling, “Go back . . . Dad!” so Noel snuggled her until she fell asleep. I guess that’s one way to tell your dad you love him.

Father's DayAll in all, I think my kids are still contenders ;)

I am not a playground!

For My Sister, Hope

Noel tells me I need to be more positive about being a mom–especially when I’m talking to you. Maybe he’s right, but you know I’ll always tell it to you straight. You are about to hop onto one of the wildest rides of your life.  Being a mother is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nothing could have prepared me for it. You literally become someone new overnight. At times it’s disorienting, overwhelming, and downright exhausting, but it can also be exhilarating in ways you never could have imagined. Being a mom is weird like that.

There will be times when you realize you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, but don’t let that psych you out. All of us mommas have plenty of advice we’d love to give, but take it with a grain of salt because even if it looks like we have it together, we don’t. We’re all still figuring things out too. In the midst of your uncertainty, there will also be super-human, adrenaline pumping moments where the primal momma-bear part of you kicks in and you will know exactly what to do; heaven help anyone that gets in your way. And for the days in between, remember that right now your kisses have superpowers and your arms have the strength to keep the evils of the universe at bay.

There may be some evenings that you’ll fall to your knees in exhaustion crying to God that you “can’t do this,” but there will also be days that you’ll find your heart overflowing with gratitude.

Some nights you’ll be ready to make a deal with the devil for a good night’s rest and other nights you won’t be able to tear yourself away from your child’s bedside as you stare at their angelic sleeping face. Inexplicably, all children look like angels when they sleep no matter what sort of mischief they pursued during the day.

You’ll come to realize that the only thing separating you from the child-murdering parents on the news is the ability to close the door and take a few deep breaths.  And as long as you’re able to step away, you will still be a good parent. There will also be times where you won’t be able to get enough of the soft touch of their hair on your cheek as they wrap you in a full body hug. Strangely, the time between the two events may only be a matter of seconds.

You’ll crave silence, but then when you get it you’ll find yourself in a panic, and usually for good reason.

Some days your house will verge on being declared a national disaster and you’ll feel like you didn’t accomplish a single thing. On those days remind yourself that you deserve an awful lot of credit for keeping everyone alive and fed.

You’ll do things you would never do for yourself, have courage you never thought you had, and grow in ways you never thought possible. You’ll get used to people interrupting your showers, stealing your breakfast, and breaking your stuff. You’ll develop the survival skill of doing most everything one-handed while someone yells at you.

Some days all you’ll want is for no one to touch you or breathe on you and it’s important that you figure out a way to get that once in awhile. Even though there will be things you won’t be able to do once you’re a parent, don’t lose touch with the person you were and the things you loved to do. Both you and your children will benefit from you having other interests than their welfare. And for those times where it feels like your kid has hijacked your life, remember that there are other new and wonderful things you’ll get to do as a parent. When all else fails, sneak a piece of chocolate from your secret stash or take a nap instead of cleaning the house. Chocolate and naps are miracle workers.

Remember, you’re not just a mom, you’re a Mom. You’ll be doing the best social work you’ve ever done on the lowest pay, but your work will be beautiful and impactful. Know that just because you admit motherhood is hard doesn’t mean you don’t love it. Even on my worst days there’s something deep in my soul that whispers that these children were always meant to be mine and I know it’s the same for you and your little boy. You’re going to be awesome. Take it from an expert.

I am not a playground!