Holidays

Independence Day 2017

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We headed down to sunny St George to visit family for the fourth of July, and it was blazing hot, but the trip didn’t disappoint! We spent as much time getting wet as we possibly could, because that’s how you cope with the heat in my book.

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(Ha ha. I love cousin photos) Water play, and eating snow cones on the patio or relaxing inside my in-laws’ beautifully air-conditioned home! (she was a lot happier about this than she looks)

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Ahhhhh. How I miss air-conditioning (there are very few homes in our area that have it, people just go without since the winters are so long).

I’m sure many of you can relate to this next photo… This is what happens when you try to get a picture with your child: the only one where you’re smiling is the one where you have crazy eyes because you’re trying to get them to look at the camera. Oh boy!

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Jonas loved exploring (he was fascinated by that vacuum cleaner hose!) and of course getting kisses and cuddles from everybody. And yogurt.

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I love having all this attention around them too — Andrew and I actually managed to sneak out on a date night! We saw Wonder Woman, and it was awesome. I loved it! I think what I loved most was that she was a mind-blowingly powerful fighter (all those slow-mo action scenes were sooooo cool, and watching her bring justice upon bad guys is incredibly cathartic!) but she is also vulnerable, sensitive, innocent in the best of ways (her reaction to the first baby she’s ever seen just melted me!), and compassionate. The much-discussed no-man’s-land scene is perfect ❤️ She brings the best of femininity to an awesome superhero, and that’s why I loved her the most. She embraces her AND without embarrassment or complication: “well what do mortal women wear when they go into combat then?!” I loved her relationship with Chris Pine’s character! I could also go on about spiritual analogies — they were abundant — but I’m turning into my dad ha ha so I’ll just stop at how much I love how she comes to her decision that humanity is worthy of love and of her saving. And I loved the movie.

Anyway! Adelina loved running wild and playing with her cousins. Sophia sure is patient with this girl!

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Of course, we ate our share of appropriately-themed patriotic foods (below, a jello-raspberry-angel food cake trifle) and wore red white and blue…

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Because what are holidays for if not dressing up your kids in cute clothes? Ha! I look forward to getting more into the history and meaning of holidays as our kids grow older — with Adelina I think it was limited to “yay hot dogs” this year (ha) but really, how do you explain abstract concepts like “freedom from tyranny” and “the pursuit of happiness” to a 2-year-old? We’ll keep working on that one, to be honest, with packing and traveling, I kind of dropped the ball and was just looking forward to relaxing.

It all ended with some good ol’ fashioned at-home fireworks. We let Adelina stay up late with the cousins and I think it went pretty well! I have some great memories of fireworks with my dad when we lived in Virginia, and trying so hard to stay awake even though we were exhausted and couldn’t keep our eyes open! I think she’s on the right track to making those memories herself 😉

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The next morning, the 4th, we packed up and headed home, full of Fiiz soda and jello trifle and hot dogs and chips and everything else that goes with Independence Day picnics. We skated into town with enough time to put the kids to bed and enjoy our small town’s INSANE fireworks display — and this is before the actual fireworks show started!

(This doesn’t really do it justice but it’s a taste — everyone was lighting up the sky with these crazy aerial fireworks! And yes, our kids seriously slept through the entire thing.) Next year is going to be a blast.

 

Life

Jonas’ First Haircut

Snip snip… and just like that, Jonas had his first haircut this week!

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Not really much of a difference, but he was getting some serious wisps around the edges. My mother-in-law was brave enough to hold him as he squirmed and tried to grab the scissors, and I had to make it brief so I wouldn’t poke out an eye! It’s not exactly perfect, but I at least managed to trim it and clean it up a bit around the ears.

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And there you have it! Love those teeny baby hairs! Our boy is growing so fast… 7 1/2 months old already!

Life · Motherhood · Parenting

Ain’t That a Kick In the Head

Hi guys! I’m still here, I promise. Things have just been a little wild lately. A project I joined early in the year has been essentially taking up all my spare computer time and my toddler decided she wants to make things super fun and stop napping. So things have been interesting around these parts… That, and I swear I’m tired all the time now, even though Jonas is sleeping really well these days (putting him in his own room a month ago was the best decision we’ve ever made! He immediately started sleeping almost through the night!)

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::cough:: favorite child ::cough cough::

I jest! But our daughter is giving me a serious run for my money these days. To be honest, it’s hard right now. I am losing my mind. And I know I need to be better at regulating my own mood and behavior, but man… when there’s a tiny person permanently glued to your side who whines and cries at the drop of a hat and refuses to sleep so she NEVER EVER goes away… it’s rough. (I know, poor me. I’ll stop my complaining. Shortly.)

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A very rare moment of peace. The constant battles are exhausting.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “But didn’t you just write about getting over the no-nap slump?” hahahahahahaha. Bedtime was getting to be a nightmare and she wouldn’t fall asleep until 9pm or later because she wasn’t tired, so I finally had to bite the bullet and get rid of naps. I know, right? Life. And the folly of a still-learning mom who thought she’d figured something out.

Oh, and want to laugh? Potty training has gone completely down the toilet too. We couldn’t get past #2, and I was sick of literally washing human excrement out of everything, every day (remember, I have a baby too…), so we gave it a break. Whatever.

Let’s see, what else am I awesome at right now: Being nice to my toddler? Really struggling. We have our ups and downs. Responding to emails quickly? HA. Screen time under control?

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Meh. It could be worse. My own media consumption has been pretty bad lately — whenever things get rough I tend to bury my head in my phone to escape. Time for another media fast… an acquaintance recently shared that she logs off all social media every other day these days, and I kind of like that idea. Or what I’ve done in the past, only looking at my phone when the kids are asleep (WHICH MEANS NEVER THANKS TO A CERTAIN SOMEONE). Ahem.

So yeah, we’re really winning around here. Lest anybody be under the illusion I have even a semblance of my crap together… I don’t. I know one-on-one time with her is what she craves and needs, and we do have good moments — she’s really into reading books now so I love doing that with her — but then her brother wakes up and I need to nurse him and she’s literally climbing on top of him to interpose herself… deep breaths. We’ll get there. This is what we call the trenches of motherhood, right? At least she makes us laugh plenty too!

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On the plus side: there’s been a lot of exciting stuff this summer already, and we are going home to France in one month! My sister was married this month and it was insanity for the kids, but it was so fun to be a part of it all, to spend time with my family, to relive all the excitement of a wedding and a new life.

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Reminded me of these kids…

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Ha! We were such babies! So much has happened since then. Life is a lot more complicated, and a lot harder. (man, parenting! careers! home-ownership!) But it’s good to have this guy at my side to go through it all.

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Clubfoot

World Clubfoot Day — June 3rd, 2017

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I’ve written a lot about our son’s clubfeet and all the medical care he’s received as a result. June 3rd is World Clubfoot Day and we spent a lot of time reflecting on our journey so far and what our sweet boy has been through. He’s come so far!

We’re the lucky ones — we only live two hours away from a top-notch clinic at a Shriners Hospital for Children, we live in the first world and have health insurance and access to plenty of information. And, clubfoot is a congenital birth defect that’s relatively common and completely treatable. It’s not life-altering. But it could be, if we didn’t have access to all of this. If you ever feel like it’s hard to make a difference in the world, here’s one thing you can do:

  • Donate to MiracleFeet: they provide organizational, technical, and financial support to over 150 clinics throughout the world in order to provide treatment to children born with clubfoot. The treatment costs, on average, only $250 per child and is free or extremely low-cost for the families who receive it
  • Support Shriners Hospitals for Children

The Wyoming Shrine Bowl is next week. We attended a few years ago when we lived in Casper, but had no idea at the time it would become personal. Sitting in the stadium then, we never imagined we’d someday be beneficiaries of local Shriners’ fundraising efforts a few years later!

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We are lucky his birth defect is mild and treatable, but even then, it’s not cheap, and Shriners helps make it all so much more affordable.

For anyone who might end up here after receiving the initial diagnosis: there is a lot of joy to come, even though it may be hard at times. Just wanted to share some encouragement as we celebrate our own precious little one! ❤

photography

Love

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I got to shoot my little sister’s engagement photos this past weekend, and it was so much fun. First of all, photographing adults is WAY easier than kids. No question. And second, I made these two college students wake up early on a Saturday morning to take pictures, but I think it was well worth it to get that gorgeous morning light!

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It doesn’t hurt that my sister is pretty much gorgeous either — and her fiancé isn’t half bad either 😉

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We are all pretty excited for their wedding this summer — but probably not nearly as much as these two love birds!

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Holidays · Traditions

Easter 2017

Our Easter was relatively simple this year, but still lovely.

I loved doing some of the little things in preparation, like dying eggs with Adelina (she loved it, obviously. We even managed to not make too big a mess!). She was so proud of her creation!

 

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She very much enjoyed helping with these cookies too…

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We did some special scripture studies during Holy Week — watching Bible videos, reading special articles, etc. For Family Home Evening, I opened Easter eggs that told the story of Christ’s last days with Adelina. She’s still a little young but getting to touch and hold objects was fun and helps the concepts make a little sense. (Here’s one, and another version here)

For my own personal study I found this guide really helpful — and no, I certainly didn’t make it through the whole thing! But over the years I look forward to refining what works for our family traditions. This is a great guide for families as well.

And yes, Easter also meant the end of my social media fast. This year was interesting because instead of a complete break, I decided to only allow myself to use social media when the children were sleeping. Full disclosure, I wasn’t 100% successful. I had some rough days here and there where all I wanted to do was escape. But generally it went well and it was really beneficial in terms of evaluating how I was using social media and for what purpose. It helped me exercise restraint in a more real-life type of scenario. I significantly disconnected from online hysteria and debates, which was really good for me. Instead, I plunged myself into books, I texted or called friends more often (instead of just assuming they’ll see my updates on the internet), and I had more time for reflecting on the important things. General Conference was so good this year, and I think part of it was I was cleared from a great deal of the distractions I usually surround myself with. This “fast” was so good, I think I’m going to continue to restrict social media time in a very similar way. In the last few weeks I also gained some really good insights into things I need to change in my life, and received a really direct response to how I could invite Christ into my life more — a concrete way I could do that. It’s funny how the answers come when you’re finally listening…

So there’s my recap of sorts. It is absolutely worth doing, and I recommend it to anybody who’s looking to recenter their thoughts on what really matters. It was a really great tool to start some important reflection. And it helped me make more mental space to prepare to celebrate Christ for Easter.

Of course, I love the fun and decoration aspect too 🙂 I’ve been slowly collecting or making little items for around the home — a moss-covered bunny hanging, a linen table runner, an egg wreath that I adore. And no spring would be complete without tulips and daffodils!

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I got to enjoy these on Saturday at the Provo City Center Temple (I got to shoot my sister’s engagement photos, and I can’t wait to share them with you!) Since we had to travel that weekend, my plans for an egg hunt sort of went out the window when I realized it was just one thing too many. I decided it wasn’t worth stressing about, so instead, Adelina simply found a surprise from the Easter bunny ready for her.

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(And yes, things got a little crazy so I dug out and repackaged a toy or two! Ha ha. I didn’t even buy any chocolate eggs… I know, I know. But she seriously didn’t need more junk food that weekend.)

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The big item in her basket was an apron I found just in the nick of time. I love cooking with her, and she loves the hands-on fun — like playing with dough — so much! She was a great helper for our Easter meal that day 🙂

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As for the traditional family photo… Jonas had a blowout ON Andrew before we got a chance to take it! And then Adelina was waving a stick in my face the whole time, so this is as good as it gets.

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Real life, right?! (Just take my word for it, Jonas looked stinking adorable. And my husband was handsome as always of course!) I had some moments of frustration that day, but I’m getting better at tampering my expectations and being reasonable about what will and won’t work with small children. So when Adelina decided that “I’m going to get a quick picture!” meant “Quick! Run around as fast as you can and whatever you do, DON’T look at the camera,” I took a deep breath and just went with it.

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Jonas has matching shoes that he can finally wear now! And yes, she’s been wearing that cardigan since she was about six months old…

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Gah! She was so tiny! But seriously, I can’t find a good replacement for this cardigan and I love it so much! It’s probably getting a little ridiculous though.

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And there you have it: hope you had a beautiful, peaceful, and meaningful Easter weekend!

Clubfoot

Clubfoot Update: Almost Out Of Daytime BNB Wear!

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We are now nearly done with 23-hour bracing, and it’s incredible how fast this phase has gone. We go in for a follow-up appointment this week and if his feet look good, he’ll be cleared to wear the brace for naps and nights only!

23-hour basically means your kid wears the boots all the time, but you’re allowed an hour of free time. We’ve been doing his free hour in the evening and usually take advantage of it to give him a bath. Some people do a half hour first thing in the morning and a half hour before bed.

I’m pretty sure I significantly over-prepared when we started out. I had moleskin, band-aids, sheepskin scraps (helpful for padding) and the MDOrtho website on speed dial, ready for bruising, blistering and general misery. Three months later, Jonas hasn’t had a single issue! The first few nights of BNB (boots and bar) were rough, but once we got through the adjustment, it’s been right back to normal — if not better.

His feet and legs look a little funny without the brace because they are squeezed for so long, but the nurse explained this is perfectly normal — skinny ankles and puffy-topped feet — the brace needs to be tight at the ankle especially, so all that baby fat has to move over! Here’s what they look like after 23 hours in the BNB:

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Those muffin-top legs crack me up. And his little feet keep the turnout and stay at a perfect 90° angle even when we remove the BNB because they’ve been in there so long! Over time though, this will all smooth out. I’m curious to see how it changes with less wear now.

As much as the 23-hour bracing phase has been relatively effortless, I’m truly looking forward to ditching the brace during the day. It makes baby-wearing pretty difficult (some people do it, but I couldn’t find a way to make both of us comfortable, plus it was mostly winter anyway and we weren’t out and about in nature for very long periods of time!) and then there’s the fact you have to hold your baby a little differently — no propping the baby on your hip, for example. And if I want to lay him on my lap with his feet towards me, I get gut-punched with his brace. Not to mention that thing is painful if he slams it down on you when you’re not paying attention!

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And that’s just why I don’t like the brace. Jonas has adapted because it’s all he’s ever known at this point, and he wields that thing like nobody’s business. He quickly learned to move both legs together for maximum effect, or how to set one foot and push off with the other, using the bar for leverage. He started rolling over just fine, approximately at the same age my daughter did if I recall correctly. I actually feel like his gross motor skills have been pretty advanced comparatively, he was rolling up onto his side pretty early on. I think having to lift the brace has strengthened his core quite a bit. But I guarantee he’s going to love the extra freedom and mobility once he gets it!

Funny story: I once tried to put him down for a nap during his free hour and he wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep — I think the weight of the bar is something he’s gotten so used to that it was disorienting to try to sleep without! I’ve heard similar stories from parents of older kids, toddlers crying about their bar when a parent forgot to put it on. It just goes to show that children really do adapt: if this is all they’ve ever known, it’s just life!

We tried to take advantage of those rare moments of freedom: bath time, walks, play, and our most recent discovery: swinging!

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I’m sure we’ll get to a point where putting the brace on will become a real struggle (he’s already getting pretty wiggly now that he’s rolling over!) but I am looking forward to a new phase, unencumbered. And yes, I just bought his first pair of shoes… and they are stinkin’ adorable.

Good luck baby Jonas, here’s to more freedom soon!

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