Sunday, July 27, 2008

I want to remember...

Ever since I heard Elder M. Russel Ballard's talk on motherhood in the last conference, a quote he gave has been haunting me:

"Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11)."

I was picking Cameron up from camp a couple of weeks ago and saw a baby a week old there. She was so teeny tiny and I thought surely she had to have been smaller than Mason ever was. When the mother told me that she was almost 8 pounds I think I must've looked stunned. I can't remember him being that little and that was just three and a half months ago! How quickly the time does fly and I find myself in the same rut that Anna Quindlen found herself in. I am always looking to the next thing, and how I can accomplish it with the least amount of whining and in the shortest amount of time. With Mason being our last baby, it panics me beyond belief that I will not remember what he smells and feels and sounds like. As much as we may try to stop time by videotaping and photographing little moments, we will never be in that moment again. I want to remember exactly how it feels to have this tiny lump of warm flesh lay heavily slumbering on my chest. I want to be able to look into his trusting deep eyes forever and remember how his gaze makes me melt. I want to keep smelling that "clean baby" smell that comes after a warm bath and just makes you want to hold them closer. I find myself constantly thinking about how much easier life will be when the kids are "x" years old, when there are no more diapers, no more strollers, no more having to worry about them wandering off at the park. But in the back of my mind I know that those days will come all to quickly and I will want to rewind life to the here and now. Oh how I wish I could hit the pause button and just stay where I am- minus some of those extra responsibilities that seem to get in the way. My life seems so perfect right now and everything that matters the most in life is right at my fingertips. I have the loving husband that tries to put my needs before his own and three adorable, healthy, exuberant children that introduce me to new things each day and fill my life with a joy I never knew existed. I feel so incredibly lucky to have everything I ever wanted, but didn't realize I wanted until I had it. Is it perfect? No, of course there are things that I wish I could change, but I think it is perfect for me and I know there is Someone much wiser than I that has put this all into motion and is calling the shots.

Several years ago I got some parenting advice from a friend that has no children that has echoed in my ears time and time again. Even though she didn't have kids of her own, her words were just what I needed to hear. She said that we ought to say yes to our kids as much as we can. I know it sounds so simple, but in execution it is a bit more difficult. As I have implemented this philosophy into our life, I have noticed that I am the one that most often benefits from it. "One more book, Mommy," turns into extra snuggle time with my kids, "Can we go for a walk?" ends up giving us time to talk about whatever is most important in their little minds. It seems like these requests usually come when I have a million other things to do and telling them to just go play or putting a movie on seems like the easiest solution. But when I do say yes, I am treated to those memory making moments that help shape both our lives.

So I will let the boys play for five more minutes in the bathtub even if it means we will be late for preschool and I will join right in with bubbles on my nose and water all over the floor, because I know that these are the times to savor. I hope I can spend more time just enjoying and relishing being a mom with young kids so that I can say in the future that I got the maximum out of every day. I know I will still want to be sent back in time, but at least I will have less regrets and might actually be able to remember more.

And on that note I'm off to snuggle that baby of mine and smell and touch and listen to him. And I will go and sit on the edge of my children's beds and watch them sleeping so peacefully, dreaming of becoming whatever their minds imagine. I will be the best mom I know how to be and make that quality time a top priority, so that we can both get the most out of them growing up. I will "treasure the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hill Cumorah Pageant

Last Thursday we took a last minute trip with our friends the Wadleys to Palmyra, NY for the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Every year in July, they put on a huge performance reinacting several events from the Book of Mormon. I've wanted to go for years, so this was the perfect opportunity to tag along with friends and do it together. It was really hot and humid during the day, but the kids were all such troopers and I think we all enjoyed seeing these historic and sacred places. We saw the house that Joseph Smith lived in and it was so small, it was hard to imagine how a family with nine children could've fit inside. No one knows exactly where the Sacred Grove was, so there is a set of trails and pathways throughout the wooded area around Joseph Smith's home and we wandered through just thinking about the miraculous event that once took place there. We also visited the printing press where the Book of Mormon was first printed and learned that it took 7 months to print one Book of Mormon. Two men worked around the clock to create the metal template for each page and then ink and press, over and over. After the long day, we got some pizza (Mandi and I agreed it was the best we've ever eaten!) at Mark's Pizza and then headed over to sit and wait for the pageant to start. The kids ran around while the adults just sat and were able to relax. Once it got dark the show started and it was phenomenal! We will definitely go back when the kids are older and can appreciate it a bit more, but Jeremy and I really got a lot out of it all.

Niagra Falls

After our trip to Palmyra we headed west to the Canadian side of Niagra Falls. None of us had ever been to Canada so it was neat to be able to cross a bridge and all of a sudden be in another country. The falls were magestic and we walked all along the observation path admiring both the American and Canadian falls. The drop off is so instantaneous and steep between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, it was a bit scary to be so close. Mandi and I took Sara and Cameron to a 4-D experience where you stand in a circular room and they play a movie all around you. you get snowed and rained on, the floor moves and water flows all around you like a waterfall. I thought Cameron would be fine with it so I ignored the warning that it may not be suitable for kids under seven. I was wrong. Cameron was absolutely petrified and I ended up having to hold him during most of it while he cried and his little heart pounded a mile a minute. Sara seemed to do just fine... Needless to say, Cameron was less than excited to go on our next stop, the Maid of the Mist boat ride that takes you right up to the falls. We all donned our brightest blue rain ponchos and climbed aboard. It was quite a ride! The water was choppy and the spray and wind got us all soaked. But it was an experience I don't think any of us will forget. We probably could've spent several days there with all of the fun activities and places to visit, but we hit the road the next morning and returned home. This was our first long road trip with the boys and I could not believe how well they did. I kept asking Jeremy in the car whose kids we had back there because they were so good and quiet and we didn't even have to use the DVD player very much. All in all, it was such a fun trip and we were so grateful that we invited ourselves along with Mike, Mandi, Sara and Luke. We are lucky to have such a great friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Do they look the same?


B.C. So can you guess who's who? I was pretty suprised when I put them side by side how similar my boys all look. These are pics of each of them when they were about 3 months old.

Monday, July 14, 2008

See Ya Sista'

Becky and I
Casey and Gavin
Cam, Casey, Dylan, and Gavs
Best Buds- Cameron and Dylan
Cam, Megan, Dylan, Gavin, and Casey (Sean and Ryan weren't there at the time)
Last Thursday my sister and her family moved to Bogota, Colombia. In the weeks leading up to their departure, we tried to spend as much time with them as their busy schedules would allow. After they packed out, they stayed in a Residence Inn and the day before they left we spent the afternoon and evening there at the pool. The next day we saw them off at the airport and had a tear-filled goodbye. We miss them already and can't wait until they come for a visit next summer. Hopefully we will also be able to plan a visit down there in the next three years.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Great Country Farms Slideshow

GREAT Country Farms

Today we went blueberry picking at one of our favorite spots- Great Country Farms. Not only can you pick several different fruits and vegetables there, but it is a great place to take the kids. They have homemade slides and swings, mazes, a giant "corn box," a big air pillow which is a moon bounce type thing without the walls, and a petting zoo. We tried to get there early and took the tractor ride out to the blueberries. It was hot, so we only lasted a little while, but managed to pick about a pint, even though Cameron dropped his carton a couple of times. Then we went exploring and pet the animals, played tractors in the corn and chased each other on the pedal tractor speedway. By then we were drenched in sweat and had to head home. It would've been nicer on a cooler day, but we made the most of it and had a great time!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Very Hungry Caterpillars...

Ever since Cameron studied the butterfly life cycle in preschool, he has been fascinated with caterpillars and butterflies. Twice we have caught the ugly, woolly caterpillars that are common around our house and watched them change into ugly, fat moths, which thouroughly captivated our little entomologist. So after a string of good behavior warranting a reward of some kind, I purchased a butterfly habitat for Cam and we sent off for five painted lady caterpillars. They arrived in a small container with caterpillar food and started out as very small black creatures. Within a few days they were very plump and soon after they all formed their cocoons at the top of the jar. We anxiously waited and watched and one morning found that three of them had emerged. During the day the other two followed suit and it was incredible to see what they became. We fed them watermelon which they swarmed around and uncurled their straw-like tongues to suck up the juice. Cameron would just sit and watch them in amazement. Well now that we have had them a few days, we decided it was time to release them and thought that my moms butterfly bush would be the perfect place. Four of the five flew away instantly, but one lingered on the bush and we even got to see it stick it's tongue into the flowers. In the end, I think I was more fascinated than Cameron, but our whole family really enjoyed watching this incredible cycle take place.

All Night Long!

Mason's sleep schedule has been all over the place. I used to be a Babywise fanatic which worked like a charm with Cameron but not so much with Gavin and my attempts at using it with Mason have been inconsistent, which is completely my fault. With three kids it seems like I am always carting poor Mason around to different activities, waking him up to feed him right before we load into the car where he falls asleep again right away, only to be woken up when we arrive at our destination. Needless to say, he catnaps a lot, but with his sweet temprament, I haven't been too concerned. The one feat I have aimed to tackle is his sleeping through the night. Up until a week ago he would wake up two or three times at night and I would groggily feed him, knowing that he would go right back to sleep. Just when I couldn't take it any more and I threatened letting him cry it out, he began sleeping, well, like a baby. At first it was 6 hours, then seven, and now he is doing 9 hours!!!! Now that I am getting more sleep at night I can already notice a difference in my demaenor which is good for everyone. This is the baby stage that I like, because now I can really enjoy him without being sleep-deprived. And I never even had to let him cry it out, he did it all on his own. Way to go Mase!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Festive Fourth

We spent our fourth of July this year at Lake Anna with our friends the Porters, Walls, and Andersons at the Gair's beautiful lakefront home. They live right in front of a sandy beach there and have two jet skis that we most thoroughly enjoyed using. The kids all played in the shallow warm water while the adults opted to use the big toys. Cameron and Gavin loved jumping on the huge inflatable trampoline that was set up (thanks Steve for taking Gavin out again and again...) and Mason lounged out beneath the two canopy tents in everyones arms. Jeremy got some solo jet ski time, while I got pulled behind one in a three person raft that was airborne more than it was in the water. We spent most of the day down at the beach, and came in just in time to BBQ and eat before the storm hit. It was then a race back down to the beach to gather up everything before it got wet or blown away. Luckily, the storm didn't last too long and the weather was perfect for the covert fireworks display that was put on a few lots down. We had some completely exhausted kiddos on the ride home that all passed out before we even left the neighborhood. It was definitely a memorable, fun filled fourth and we were so lucky to have good friends to share it with. Thanks Heather and Garth for inviting us!