Summer Wednesday

This morning the girls’ music practice took two and a half hours, and so we ended up skipping summer camp. That was actually a really great thing for me because it meant a lot less walking and carrying Ammon around, and this is the first night in a while that I don’t feel pain. Yay!

We had a pretty typical day otherwise.

Reading to Mary while Ammon napped and Lydia was at robotics camp.

The kids played outside all afternoon, as usual. They are really into making “beds” out of leaves, flowers, pinecones, and rocks lately.

Crowding around a baby rolly polly

Dinner.

Ammon eating outside. It is a JOY not to have to clean the floor (even if I do sweep the basketball court afterward) for at least one meal a day.

Abe is writing a fantasy novel and told the girls a new chapter tonight. This is my favorite picture of the day.

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chair contest

This morning I took Ammon on some errands with me.

I took him to refill some olive oil containers we have and then to the store. I initially felt bad for not taking him somewhere specifically for kids, but he thought the grocery store was the best. We got a cart with a kiddie car on front, and then on top of that he got a free cookie from the store. He kept standing up, leaning out of the front window, and twisting himself around to flash me giant grins. He had a great time.

After we picked up the girls from summer camp and dropped off Lydia at robotics, I put Ammon down for a nap and finished my book.

In the evening, Abe and I sat outside with the kids for dinner and a couple hours beyond that. Some of the neighbor kids joined us for dinner, and after they wanted to have a contest decorating our chairs. Abe napped on the grass until they called for us to judge their creations.

The kids said that Abe had to take pictures of both their chairs and of one of them sitting in their chairs so that he could make a fair decision. He awarded Lydia and Liberty “the most flowery” chair award.

Anabelle and Mary were awarded “the most creative” chair award.

I actually thought Anabelle and Mary made the chair look beautiful.

Afterward all of the kids worked hard to clean up their mess. They did a great job and we were so proud of them.

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Ammon’s new hoop

The highlight of today was family home evening. Abe has been dreaming of getting Ammon a mini-basketball hoop for a loong time, and he finally found a good excuse. He taught a lesson on the joy of making others happy, and then we all piled in the car and picked out a hoop for Ammon. When he explained the lesson plan to me, I was expecting Abe to say that we would all go get a toy for the homeless shelter or volunteer at a food pantry, but he cheerfully proposed that fulfilling his own daydream would be a perfect way to teach the girls the joy of making others happy. ūüôā

After we went to pick out Ammon’s hoop, we swung by IHOP for dinner.

As I type, Abe has the girls on his lap and they are all watching Ammon run around manically throwing ball after ball in the hoop. He is literally panting with joyful excitement. The girls are grinning too, so I think Abe was right. They are finding joy in their little brother’s happiness.

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June Sunday

I went to Sacrament meeting today, and afterward Abe and I took Ammon straight home. He has been sick for several days and we did not want to expose the other nursery kids to his germs. After putting Ammon down, Abe left and went back to church. I stayed home and prayed, read scriptures, and napped.

Abe did not have any afternoon meetings! One of my favorite parts of the day was resting while he journaled and prayed next to the bed. The air was so pleasant, the sun was shining in, and even though you can’t see it in the photo, Mt. Timpanogas looked so stunning through the window.

The girls spent the whole afternoon¬†playing outside. After Abe’s delicious veggie burger dinner, they spent the evening playing dolls with the neighbors. The neighbors always make sure to clean the doll closets before playing so that they can actually enjoy playing dolls. We are grateful for this good habit of theirs.

I am reading¬†Rough Stone Rolling. I started years ago and stopped 400 pages in or so. I re-started in the 300’s because I have forgotten almost everything. Back to my book!

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post-illness Saturday

Yesterday I either had the flu or some sort of food poisoning. I also had to take the glucose test in the morning, and on top of the constant sharp pain whenever I walk, all of those things combined to put me down for the entire day. My mom basically did everything, and Abe did stuff too when he came home.

Doing nothing in bed while others work for you is not a great way to build self-esteem. Even though I knew I literally could not do more, I felt so bad. So today, when I woke up with whatever the bug/flu/poisoning I had yesterday gone, I tried to make up for yesterday’s insane amount of inactivity.

First I helped clean the kitchen. Abe made an amazing breakfast for the kids, and I puttered around cleaning up.

Then I “helped” Lydia with her harp practice. Basically, I was no help at all and instead just made her cry. I retreated to the bathroom with a copy of Suzuki notes and resolved to up my positive language game next time.

Then I did four loads of laundry and changed our bedsheets. (The laundry was an all-day, ongoing project.)

Then I cleaned Ammon’s room.

Then I sorted out all of the girls’ winter clothes into storage so that they don’t have to dig through those piles of useless things when trying to find their summer clothes.

While sorting clothes, I directed and re-directed the girls to their cleaning chores. They were supposed to clean ALL of their messes and make their beds before playing outside today. It took…hours.

Then I ate lunch.

Then I cleaned a bathroom.

Then I collapsed crying from pain in bed, and Abe gave me a long massage and a pep talk.

Then Abe and my mom took the kids to the Orem Summerfest carnival, and I stayed home and caught up on the blog for HOURS.

Here’s a picture he sent me from the carnival:

I anticipate more pictures coming soon, but my eyes are burning from blogging so much, so I am just going to  shut my computer, read my book, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, and add those later.

(Later):

Lydia is obviously trying to keep Ammon safe here. She is a very conscientious child.

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catch-up: Summer routines

I am dying to be caught up on the blog so I can blog daily instead of retrospectively. During our trip, we did not have much internet access and we were short on blogging time. When we came home, I realized the blog was basically broken. Jere, Abe’s amazing computer-genius brother, spent a lot of time helping me to fix all of the issues with the blog. Now I can blog again–yay!!–but I am also soooooo behind.

So I am just going to talk about the past two weeks thematically instead of trying to record every day.

First theme: Summer camps! I registered the girls for summer camp back in April, and so we have been looking forward to these for some time. The first camp they go to is in the morning at the playground by the Orem Rec Center. It is insanely low-key. Basically, the kids play on the playground and have different crafting themes each day (and the crafting usually means coloring something). But they love it, and I love that they start each day with some good time outdoors with other kids.

During their camp, I spend one-on-one time with Ammon. I have a pulled groin muscle right now that the doctor has told me will only heal if I¬†don’t walk. Can you imagine that? I can’t imagine being a mom and not walking. But I do my best, and most of the time we head home and read books. But sometimes I ignore the doctor’s advice and haul Ammon around to the park, the store, the library, or wherever I think he will have some fun.

I pick the girls up at noon, and then we head over to UVU where Lydia has robotics camp. I usually feed the kids sandwiches and fruit in the car before dropping Lydia off to go build robots. I was worried there would be a distinct gender gap in the robotics camp participants, but to my delight there are a number of other little girls in the camp.

Then I head home and put Ammon down for his nap. Sometimes I read to Mary or do something productive, and sometimes I nap. Most of the time I nap.

At 2:30, I pick up Lydia. Usually we get our harp practice done before camp starts, so that means she has the rest of the day to play outside with the neighbor kids. I just registered her for summer reading, though, so maybe we will start doing that before she plays (or bring her in before 9:30 at night, which is when all of the kids seem to wind down). But typically she and Mary run around with three other families of neighbor kids for the rest of the day. We call the girls back for dinner, but then immediately re-release them afterward. They never tire of playing outside with the neighbors, and the happy sounds of their play make us all rejoice in the freedom and joys of their childhood.

Second theme:¬†Doctor’s visits. I don’t know why this is a theme, but it seems like we go to some sort of doctor on a practically daily basis. Since our arrival home from the trip we have seen the podiatrist for Mary’s foot wart, the pediatrician for Mary’s kindergarten shots, the OBYGYN for my check-up, the OBYGYN lab for my glucose test, the dentist for a family cleaning…and my doctor told me to schedule an appointment with the dermatologist soon about some crazy skin conditions that I am getting. I have pictures from an assortment of these visits below.

The dentist.

Waiting at the pediatrician.

Waiting at the podiatrist.

The nurse at the podiatrist’s tells Mary about her wart.

Third theme:¬†Scera Pool.¬†I have no idea why we have lived here three years and this is my first time discovering the Scera Pool. It is less than five minutes from our house and a perfect place to take the kids. I have almost used up my 25 visit punch pass which I bought about a week ago. (Granted, each person counts as a punch, and one day I was babysitting the neighbors and took them too). At any rate, the pool has been a revelation. I step-count the way others calorie count, meaning, I am trying to limit my steps. If I weren’t limiting my steps, I would take the kids to the pool every day. I love it there.

Fourth theme: Gardening. Again, I am crippled, so this is not a personal theme, but it is a familial one! Last Saturday Abe spent ten hours planting, and my mom and the kids were right there alongside of him. The girls were so cute using watering cans as big as they were. I will have to ask my mom for those pictures. These are the ones I have:

….And now I am going to consider myself officially caught up. From here on out, I can blog about the present!!! Woo-hooo!!!!

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An Ode to Abe (of the bloggish-prose variety, on the occasion of our seven year anniversary)

Can I just type a series of superlatives? Because that’s what Abe is to me.

He is the kindest. Did I ever record the time he came home after a long day, took over the kids, put them to bed, and then folded five loads of laundry before turning to me¬†in sincerity¬† and thanking me for sacrificing my health and body to carry another baby of ours into the world? Because if I didn’t, I should have.

Or how one of our Chicago friends, who was ostracized at church because he relates to others slightly differently, considers Abe his best friend in the world because Abe never ostracized him, always included him, made time for him–and still does?? Abe sees past outer mannerisms into his heart and reciprocates this man’s love and loyalty with his own sincere love and genuine friendship. He is always there to lend a hand, a listening ear, and even money–even though we are definitely not rich, and his instincts are always to save. But he is generous with those in need because Abe’s soul is kind.

Abe is constantly seeing the best in others. Even when others criticize him–which is hard, since Abe puts his heart and soul into everything he does and prioritizes the happiness of others above his own–he takes the criticism, becomes introspective, tries to grow, and extends acts of service towards the criticizer. This scenario actually happened this year with someone he works with. I was so proud to see how he responded maturely and kindly to the situation.

The funniest. Abe makes me laugh out loud every day. He is witty, clever, and oh-so-funny.

The most fun. As our children will tell you, Abe is the most fun. They are so, so lucky to have a dad who is their personal playground and play mate. And Abe, because he is so optimistic, can make any situation seem like a fun adventure. (RE: Our recent road trip episode where Ammon puked all over and Abe rejoiced because we happened to be able to clean it all up in a stream. On my own, I would have cried and concluded God had abandoned me.)

The best listener EVER.¬†I can talk to Abe about everything, and I basically do. He listens and understands me right away. I can count on one finger the time I felt like after explaining myself more than once, he didn’t actually understand what I was feeling. ONE time in seven years. And we proceeded to talk for hours until he did.

The wisest man.¬†I have way too open a mind¬†to random articles and blogs I come across in my Facebook feed. If I find something well-written and persuasive, I tend to be able to see things from the perspective of whoever is writing. Sometimes this disturbs my paradigm or my peace, and I always run these articles by Abe. He immediately can discern and sort what is good, helpful, and true from what is not–and he has the ability to articulate why in a powerful way. Honestly, it’s like he has a superpower of discernment.

The most authentically spiritual. He reads scriptures and journals about God for fun. He kneels in prayer because he adores God. I do these things out of duty or because I need divine help or therapy. He does these things for personal pleasure.

The HARDEST working. The man never stops. He works himself to the bone at work and then comes home and takes over my job, changing all of the poopy diapers, putting the kids down, chasing Ammon, helping me with whatever household chores I neglected to do, tallies our budget–honestly, what do I even do with my life? (Actually, that’s why I blog–to tell myself that I do something with my life because otherwise I would be left to conclude that Abe and my mom do it all.) He is literally superman. When I worked (in my very, very short career), I would come home in a state of collapse. I am sure that is what Abe would like to do, but he always, always chooses to serve his family instead.

The BEST HUSBAND IN THE WORLD. I tell Abe regularly that I could search the universe and all of the eternities, backwards and forwards in time, and never find his equal. He is the perfect husband for me. He is strong in every area I am weak. And on top of that–he doesn’t despise me for being weak! He loves me. He tells me so multiple times a day, gives me long massages¬†regularly, helps me with whatever I want help with, patiently listens to me complain about my decaying health and body (the worst, most annoying type of complaining), takes over the kids when he is home, encourages me to do things for myself, supports me in anything I undertake, tells me constantly that I am beautiful (even when I am pregnant and weigh over 200 lbs), and speaks consistently kind, loving words in a kind, loving tone to me. I am convinced if he had any free time, he would spend it walking on water.

I adore my husband. Happy Anniversary, Abe! Thank you for making these seven years so spectacularly rich in love and friendship. You are the best and the greatest.

I love you. 

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7th Wedding Anniversary

Monday was our wedding anniversary! We spent most of it…cleaning. Well, Abe and my mom cleaned, the kids played in our kiddie pool and ran around the neighborhood, and I sat on a chair and tried to recover from the trip.

It was actually a very pleasant, enjoyable day. Unfortunately, all of my pictures are lost except for one. We had a babysitter come over at 4pm so that Abe and I could escape to Salt Lake for the evening.

En route we decided to deep clean our dirty car. It took us over an hour in the blazing hot sun. We had the car wash attendant take our picture to document the memory.

By the time we reached Salt Lake, neither of us had eaten much all day. I don’t know if Abe had eaten more than some fruit since the morning. We decided to rectify the situation by eating ourselves into a coma at Rodizio’s. Abe did not regret a thing, but I am pretty sure I gained about ten pounds (that’s a low estimate) on the trip, so I¬†did have immediate regrets. But it was good while we were eating it!

Honestly, I don’t know if I should record our next stop or not, but oh well, this is my life documentary and I am probably not going to put this in my scripture journal! I am also pretty sure I am my main audience here, and this was a great memory, so into the blog it goes: We next went to the Blue Boutique, which we occasionally patronize. In fact, I used to live practically next door to the place in my single years, but of course I never visited then. One of my roommates had to point it out to me and explain what it was because I had never noticed it before (which is crazy since there are mannequins in lingerie in the window–you’d think I would have noticed, right???).

At any rate, we had a great time shopping around. I kind of love the staff there because they are all so friendly and can talk about anything–literally anything— in such a friendly, personable, matter-of-fact way. I always ask TONS of questions and leave feeling not only educated, but enlightened.

Then we checked into the Grand America. I have always wanted to stay there. One of my friends spent her wedding night there, and ever since she told me that, I always wondered, “Why didn’t I think of that?” At the end of the day, I love my life experiences just the way they happened, but it was kind of a dream come true to experience the Grand America. It was especially nice after our loooooong (but wonderful) road trip. We had time to ourselves! Peace and quiet! And as much as we love our children, we had just spent every waking moment with them for ten days straight…so also: No children!!! It was amazing.

In the morning, we ordered breakfast to our room and Abe helped upload thousands of pictures to Google Drive and my computer.

I seriously have the best husband in. the. world.

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Home again

On Sunday we got up early to make the long drive back home. We really did not make any memorable stops, other than getting lost in Las Vegas looking for gas. It took us forty-five minutes to find and pump gas–and we were in the heart of the city! Also, I was dying to go the bathroom, and the first station had no working restroom. I about died. We were very down on Las Vegas afterward.

“What a horrible city,” Abe muttered as we pulled away. “It’s corrupt, full of sin, and there aren’t even any gas stations. Let’s get outta here.”

Which we did. The only stop we made after that was at a Chipotle in St. George.  Our kids were craaazy after the long time in the car, and so Abe had Ammon standing on the bench banging on his shoulder with a fork, Lydia crawling on top of him, and Mary weaving circles behind him and through his legs. A nice couple started to chat with Abe, and their daughter offered to watch Ammon while I ordered. They were so nice.

And then we got home late, late at night. My mom had made the house beautiful, sparkling clean and put out flowers on the front porch as a welcome. It was such a nice feeling to come home and see her.

In fact, one of the highlights of the whole trip was having the girls race to their Nana and trip over themselves telling her about the trip. They were in such a good mood that they didn’t even fight when interrupting each other–they just kept talking and talking and talking. It was incredibly gratifying to hear what a good time they had on the trip and to see them share it with their sweet Nana (who was already in bed and didn’t understand half of what they were saying, but listened attentively anyway).

We ended by pulling the girls away from Nana so we could dunk everyone in the bath. We were filthy after the trip!! But after everyone was clean, it was sooooooo nice to sleep in our own beds and appreciate being home. We went to bed feeling very, very blessed.

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Disneyland

Ah, Disneyland. One of my favorite places on earth. It was so nice to visit again, even if I did end up basically crippling myself by walking for twelve hours on a pulled groin muscle. (The doctor told me this week that the path to recovery was¬†not walking¬†for several weeks.¬†Oh, and I have three kids–and it’s summer. I am still confused about how I will ever actually recover.)

But! Pulled groin aside, Disneyland was as amazing as ever. Even though we got to bed late, the kids were so excited that they got up early enough for us to get a head start on our Disneyland dreams.

We started off by taking the kids to the teacups, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, It’s a Small World, and Snow White–which always scares the girls. In fact, Mary spent the entire ride with her head in Abe’s lap and did not look up once. Lydia spent the ride leaning into me with her head down and her eyes squeezed shut. Ammon had no idea what was going on, so he looked at everything. Hopefully he didn’t get nightmares!

I kept thinking we should get a family photo, but I never got around to it. This is the closest thing I’ve got.

Then we went to the French Market for lunch. I adore their corn chowder, and so we ordered that, some salad, and some kid meals for the kids. Ammon was asleep by that point, so we parked him under the table. After the kids finished eating, Abe took the girls to Splash Mountain for their very first real roller coaster ride while I put my feet up and stayed with sleeping Ammon.

When Ammon woke up, I wandered over to Splash Mountain to watch the ride. I had forgotten about the steep drop at the end, and I immediately called Abe and begged him to mentally prepare the girls for it. I honestly pictured them both having actual, real live heart attacks going down the drop. They are both relatively cautious little people.

Abe assured me he would prepare the girls, but after the ride he told me he felt a little bad about taking Mary on the ride. She enjoyed everything until the final drop, at which point she experienced sheer terror with no pleasurable side effects. After the drop, Abe had his hands around her and could feel her little heart racing. She spent the rest of the ride repeating over and over, “That wasn’t a very good idea. Can I get off now?”

But we were proud of the girls for surviving their first roller coaster! Here is a picture where Mary’s feelings about the situation are caught on camera:

After the harrowing encounter with Splash Mountain, we let the girls stand in line to visit Winnie the Pooh and friends. It was a little more their speed.

After-Pooh treats!

Then we wandered over to the parade. I looooooove the Disneyland Parade. I can hum the song right now: M-I-C-K-E-Y Mmm-O-U-S-EEEEEEE!!!!!! I actually get slightly teary eyed at the parade just because of the overwhelming positive emotion. I love the great lengths Disneyland goes to to make little kids and grown-ups smile and be happy.

Watching the parade.

After the parade, we went to Tomorrowland and rode the Astro Orbiter, the Buzz Lightyear ride, the Finding Nemo submarine, and the auto cars.

Waiting in line for the astro-orbiter, Abe helped Ammon out by becoming his human swing.

Daddies make the best rides.

Entertaining Ammon in line for Finding Nemo. (Keeping Ammon happy in line was a major theme of this trip. Note that we employed every trick in the book: Mickey Mouse bubble wands, candy, ice cream, cotton candy–you name it, we tried it.)

The kids LOVED this Buzz Lightyear ride. Mary got 5,000 points but couldn’t remember that so kept proudly saying she got “FIVE POINTS!!!”

After Tomorrowland, we headed back to the French Market where I had corn chowder again. Can I just say that I love that corn chowder?

Then we squeezed in the carousel before heading to the electric lights parade.

At the electric light parade, we were scared we wouldn’t be able to see anything because we were late. Thankfully, we happened to pass a section marked “reserved,” and the Disneyland attendant noticed my baby bump and my slo0000w limp–and gave us front row seats!! We found out later it was a section for people with special needs.

I live for the mouth-open wonder that Disneyland elicits from my kids. It is, hands down, one of my favorite expressions. When my kids wear this expression (which is how they experience so much of Disneyland), I feel all sorts of warm and fuzzies inside. I am so grateful to be a–their, specifically–mom!!

After the parade, high winds made the fireworks impossible. That was fine with me because we were saturated with Disneyland joy. We finished by letting the kids each pick a toy from the store, which is our Disneyland tradition. We know it’s all overpriced, but a Disneyland day is, in my opinion, a day to go all out. We LOVE you, Disneyland!!

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