Aaron said Abigail needs more airtime on the blog. And she really does. What can I say though? Yesterday she went down for a nap at noon, and I had to wake her up at FOUR PM! Ya know, just your average four hour nap. Seriously, she is the best sleeper. She goes to bed around 8 each night, and wake up around 7 each morning. Takes a wonderful nap each afternoon. I really, really love that about her. And when she is tired, she doesn't act cranky and crazy she goes into this like zen mode. One time after a couple of days of no naps we found her sitting in front of the tv, playing with a toy, not really looking at the tv, and not really looking at the toy, just zoning out. It cracks us up.

She has her moments, but overall she is just sweet. Aaron said she is my little "mommy protector". She doesn't like if someone talks rudely to me, and is always quick to say, "We don't say that!" Or, "Don't talk like that to mom!" She does like to rattle off all the "bad words". At least once a day she tells me, "Mommy - we don't say disgusting head. And we don't say stupid. And we don't say shut up." And I tell her that's right and to stop saying it! I try to get her to focus on what we can say instead. And every time I ask her what we can say she says, "Because why, you silly head?" I have no clue.

The other day she came up to me and said very matter of factly, "No ice pop today, kid." And then a huge grin spread across her face. Like she was the most hilarious person in the world because she called me kid. Which basically she is. No one has ever said that to her, that I know of, so I have no clue where got it from. But it seriously cracked me up and I keep asking her to say it again because it just sounds so funny coming out of her mouth.

She is still hard to understand. I know every word she is saying, most all of the time, but everyone else looks at me and asks what she said. Olivia usually understands her as well. Sometimes this works to my advantage. Like the other day when my neighbor was wearing an-ill fitted, Tye-died wife beater type shirt, and Abigail went up to him and said, "Rusty your shirt is weird. I think you're wearing your mama's shirt or something." But out of Abigail's mouth it sounded more like "Wusty - you sowt is  weed. I fink you wearing your mama's sowt or sumfing." And Rusty looked at me and I just shrugged, and laughed and said, "I think she likes your shirt!" And quickly hurried to the car.

She calls the kids that live behind us, "Olivia's friends". Yesterday I told her they were her friends too, and her face just lit up and she smiled and said, "THEY ARE??" And I told her that they were, and she was very happy and ran outside saying, "You're my friends too! You guys are my friends!" And they basically ignored her and broke my heart, but she didn't seem to notice. I love this age.

I try not to compare her to her older spirited sister. I really try. They are just so night and day. When Olivia was 18 months old and I was getting ready to give birth I just prayed and prayed that this baby (Abigail) would be the yin to Olivia's yang. Not that I don't love Olivia's yang... but I just didn't think I could handle two yangs. And I'm pretty sure Abigail is living proof that Heavenly Father heard that prayer.


Mom Enough

This post is going to be a random stream of thoughts that need to come out of my brain. An alternate title to this post could be "My thoughts this week, and how I overcame them". But that seemed too long.

So I'm like 3 weeks late in posting about the cover Time magazine. And I'm not even posting about the nursing toddler. That's just... whatever, that is. I don't really know. But the headline - "Are you Mom Enough?"

What the crap does that even mean?!

Olivia is an intense child. Like intense. Lately her intensity has been magnified by the big move looming in our future, and all the chaos that surrounds it. She threw a huge a fit, I don't even remember why, but when she throws these huge fits she says crazy things. Things like, "I don't love you", "You don't love me" etc. Things I remember saying as a much older child. But then sometimes she says things that downright scare me. Things like, "I want to find a way to make myself die!"  Those are things that as a mother - kind of make you want to run to the nearest doctor and have your 4 year old undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Anyway a few fits like this and I started to fee like I wasn't "mom enough" for her. I seriously hate that headline for even putting those words in my head. Because I don't think I ever would have come up with them on my own. But I just felt like she was too much for me. I began to honestly believe someone else could be a better mother for her. I felt like I just didn't have what it takes to raise such an intense child. I started to feel guilty - did I do something to make her like this. Does she really want to die? Obviously at 4 years old she can't fully comprehend what that means. And she's just saying what she thinks will get a reaction. But anyway these thoughts were all consuming and led to many tears shed. Some even embarrassingly pouring down my cheeks when a well meaning person asked me how I was doing at church on Sunday.

Well then yesterday it hit me. I am the only mom she has. I have to be enough. She needs discipline, routine, structure. These are things that don't come naturally to me. But I have to work at it, for her. Because I am the only mom she has. I can't rely on her dad to pull my weight in these departments forever. I need to stretch myself. I need to be better at these things. And I can. And I will. And I will love her all the more for it.

I started this blog when Olivia was a little embryo, with an undetectable heartbeat. I never could have imagined the love, the pain, the pure joy, the laughter, the tears, and the growing she has brought to our family.  She wears me out, and wears me down. But I wouldn't have it any other way. When I think of her as a blessing, and not a "job" my life is so much easier. Sometimes I get lost in the day to day and sometimes get angry at all my kids are keeping me from things I want to do - mainly reading blogs, checking email, trying to have an adult conversation, etc. My kids need me. They need all of me. And I am enough. Even if, at times, I don't feel like it.

And I am enough, not by myself, but with the help of God. I honestly believe He sends angels to help us mothers. He is truly there for us. He makes us enough, when on our we aren't. He somehow creates enough time in the day for everything to get done. He gives us the words we need when we don't know what to say. He gives us the patience to give a hug, when we want to give a slap. He gives us the energy (or Netflix) to keep up with our little ones, when really just want a nap. He gives us tender mercies every day to let us know He is not far. Because of Him, I am enough.

I need to remember that.


I wish the quality of these pictures were better. But I used my phone to just capture this moment. I love our little back yard common area. The kids that live behind us play well with my kids. Lately their 3 year old will just wander into our house if we're down in the playroom. When the big kids get home from school they all love to play outside together. In these picture Abigail and Aaron (the 3 year old) are having a race. And Olivia and Riley are playing hide-and-go-seek with Sam. I am going to miss this so much!


You'll have to use your imagination.

I like words. But watching old home movies is like the best. Which is why I am beating myself up over the fact that I forgot the video camera for Olivia and Abigail's singing debut. Okay it was a small church function, but still -- they were ridiculously cute. And oh my goodness I would love for them to see how cute they were, in 15 years. Maybe someone taped it. I will ask around at church tomorrow.

But if not picture this....

My cutest, darlingest, little Abigail with her long wavy hair, standing on her tip-toes singing into a microphone already down as low as it could go. Wearing an adorable navy blue dress with white polka dots and a little red bow. Her daddy sitting next to her, playing guitar. Together they did the best rendition of "You Are My Sunshine". Aaron played the guitar very softly, as to not overpower Abigail's cute little voice. She sang every word, both verses. A slight pause before the second chorus, because any time she had practiced it she always stopped after the second verse. But Aaron started singing it a little, and she chimed right in. It was simply adorable.

And then Olivia took the stage. She didn't even wait for Aaron to start playing guitar, she just walked up the microphone and started singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". She too was in a navy, polka-dotted dress, with her hair down. Aaron began playing, again softly so that Olivia could be heard. But she was sure to say each word loud and clear, right into the microphone. She was so sweet, and I could tell she was kind of nervous, but I knew there was no way she would not doing something that Abigail had done.

So why two solos and not a duet? Well... there was just no convincing Olivia to share the spotlight with Abigail. And it wasn't a battle I felt like fighting. So two 30 second solos it was. And it was perfect. They really loved it.

After everyone's performances all the kids went up and did the "Hamster Dance" which was really cute. Olivia danced around smiling and laughing. And Abigail stood perfectly still the entire time. The song was maybe 3 minutes long... and Abigail just stood there in the middle of everyone dancing. Towards the end of the song she just smiled this giant smile, and just stood there smiling. It cracked me up.

The girls also won an award! "Best solos by sisters accompanied by their dad on guitar". I love our ward! Seriously the girls had a blast and even though it added some stress to our day it was so worth it.


Dear Olivia,

Oh my sweet eldest daughter, how we have struggled lately. You are volatile, and explosive, and sweet, and kind. I am trying to learn how to teach you that it's okay if you're not the best. It's okay if you make a mistake. It's okay if the squiggly line on your Q goes slightly up instead of perfectly straight down. It's okay if the dot on your i, is slightly larger, or smaller than you were anticipating. It's even okay if you make the line too long and it looks a d instead of an a. Those are little things, my dear. They do not require the catastrophic meltdown that so frequently accompanies such events.
     I know you love to be the fastest, and the smartest, and the best. But sometimes you will lose. And the world will keep turning. Sometimes, even when you run your very fastest, someone else will be faster. But guess what? You are still amazing. You still did your best. I struggle every day trying to figure out how to best teach you that all you need to do is your best, not be the the best. My heart breaks a little as I try to teach you that these are not always the same.
    The other day we went to story time, and the activity after the story was to make a train. Most kids quickly colored their paper so they could hurry and go play with the trains. But not you, Olivia. Oh no, not you. You sat in that chair for 45 minutes, carefully, meticulously, coloring that train. You placed each circle sticker in just the right spot. Picking them up, and replacing them when at second glance didn't meet your expectations. Some kids were already done with their picture AND playing with trains, and you were still messing around with those stickers. I tried to tell you it was good enough, and let's go play, but you didn't even seem to hear me. I love that you have the attention span long enough to sit and do things like that. I love that you want to be so good. I just hope that you know, that it's okay if everything's not perfect. I am drilling this into your head every day, even making you repeat it back to me, but I am not sure the message is sinking in.
        You are also a natural leader. Yesterday you were playing outside with your "friends" and you were leading them in a game of good vs. evil. These kids were 9 years old, and they were listening to you, and following you around. It gave me a good laugh. Especially when you declared yourself the Queen of Darkness, and said you were going to destroy the entire planet. With the help of your evil father. Seriously, you watch too much super hero television. But still, every where we go people tell me how friendly and outgoing you are. I love that about you.
      I love your desire to do your best. I just hope we can learn to control it a bit more over the years. I hope with experience of losing once in a while you will learn that it's okay. Humility is a hard thing to learn, and I guess I shouldn't expect you to learn it at the age 4.
       I'm sorry, Livie-loo-love, if I've ever done anything to make you think that the world ends if you are not the best. I want you to be happy. I want you to know that our Savior came to this Earth and died for you, so you would not have to be perfect in this life. No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect. But He was. And that's enough. I hope you learn that, baby girl. I hope I teach you that. Because that's really all that matters. Knowing who Christ was, and that He was perfect, and the only way we will ever be perfect is through Him. 
     I love you. Oh how I love you! You are precious, and you are good, and we'll figure this life out together. Thanks for being guinea pig with this whole parenthood thing.


Food from NYC

If you have a blog and you go to NYC
I think it's some kind of rule somewhere
that you have to post pictures of the food you ate.
Not sure, but I think I read it somewhere.

My "waffle of massive deliciousness". A freshly made Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, hot  fudge, whip cream, strawberries, and walnuts. I wish I could eat one of these every day. If I could do it again though I probably would have forgone the ice cream. If you find yourself in NYC, you should try to find  http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/
Junior's Cheesecake. So good. I chose Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. Oh my goodness. That chocolate layer was like some kind of divine mixture of chocolate mousse and cheesecake. And the crust was a thick chocolate ganache type substance. And then the side was covered in mini-chocolate chips. Seriously, I die. I really didn't want to share with Aaron.
This is what our plates looked like about 10 minutes after they arrived. I forgot to take a picture right away. I had Chicken Parmigiana and Aaron had Penne Voda. His sauce was obviously a bit yummier, seeing as his plate is licked clean. This is "our place" in NYC. It's called 44 Southwest. Which is like the weirdest name for an Italian restaurant ever.
 Have I ever told you about 44 Southwest? Well if not this story should be recorded somewhere.
The first time Aaron and I ever ventured to NYC together we  didn't have much a plan, besides seeing a show. So when we got hungry, we began looking for a place to get dinner before we saw Beauty and The Beast. Walking around the streets of Manhattan trying to find a restaurant is kind of like walking around Utah trying to find a Mormon church building.
 Well not exactly like that since all the church buildings in Utah are the same, and all the restaurants in New York are different.
Anyway, we were overwhelmed with the many choices that layed (lied? lay?) before us, and decided let's just pick the next place we see.
Fate must have led us, because we happened upon the most delicious Italian food I've ever eaten. I never knew chicken could taste so good. For reals.
 So fast forward about a year.
We find ourselves again roaming the streets of The Big City. We remember the deliciousness of the restaurant from a year ago, and try to remember what it was called, or where it was or anything besides how good it tasted. I was clueless. I don't know up from down, or left from right in New York. All sense of direction stays in Jersey.
So it was all Aaron, following his nose, or his tummy. Much like Pooh Bear to a  honey pot, Aaron led us right to the restaurant! We couldn't believe we had found it again.
Let's fast forward another year.
 Once again we couldn't remember the name, but we had an idea of the location. At least Aaron did. So for a third year in a row, we found "our place". This time we got smart, took a to-go menu folded up and put it in Aaron's wallet.
We have since returned every year,
for the past 7 years.
Yeah, we're pretty much regulars.
Anyway it's a super cute little place, somewhat reasonably priced (for Manhattan) and you can read all about it's history here. Obviously I would highly recommend it.

At first glance, doesn't it look like that picture could really have been taken from a bird's eye view? But it's really just Lego's! And look at the close up... ya know just Darth Vader and Princess Leia ice skating together. If you are poor and visiting NYC, the Lego Store is a fun free place to check out. We also went to the BOTTOM of the Empire State Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Library. All free. Oh and the Temple! 

aaaahhh... I'm glad I got this all written down. Now when I have a minute I can come and relive those wonderful 24 hours.


How could I have nothing to blog about...

It just seems overwhelming to try to write about our latest trip to Jersey/NYC. I should probably at least mention it though. Especially since it included a trip to Broadway to see Newsies. Which was awesome. There is really something to be said about being able to sit in a seat and just get completely lost in a show. Without having children climbing all over you. That may have been the best part. And my super awesome cousin let us sleep at her apartment. Seriously in another life I am writer, who lives in a 4th floor walk up, studio apartment in uptown Manhattan. Well I guess if I'm dreaming it doesn't have to be a walk up... I can have an elevator. And if I'm really dreaming I guess it doesn't have to be a studio... Anyway, my cousin has the cutest studio apartment and it is absolutely insane what she has to pay to live there. But Madonna is her neighbor, so I mean ya get what ya pay for I guess.  We ate so much delicious food. To the tune about 3lb weight gain in a week.... but oh these are quality pounds I packed on. Pizza, chicken parm, belgian waffles from a truck, bagel sandwiches, chinese food... mmm yummy days. We also took the train this trip which was really nice. Originally I had wanted to drive in, but once we calculated the cost of parking, tolls, gas, and our sanity, we opted for the train. It was so relaxing, again to just sit. Without children climbing all over me. We were also able to attend the temple. It was of course, awesome. I'm pretty sure, only in Manhattan can there be like 10 people in the session, and there are two listening in Mandarin, and 1 in Spanish, while the rest of us listen in English. I really do love that about New York.

Mother's Day.... oh Mother's Day. I had a whole post in my head. But I never wrote it. And now it's gone. But basically I am so grateful for the many mothers in my life. Of course my own mother, but also my mother-in-law, my grandmother, and my aunts. I got the nicest cards from my aunt and cousins. My cousins even got me flowers. Seriously - my family is awesome. I was so grateful for the kind words about doing a good job. I think that's what every mother's day card should say, forever. Just anything to the effect of, "Keep up the good work". Because I think as mothers we are always wondering if we are doing the right thing, or the best thing, and it's just so validating to hear someone say you are doing it right.

My kids made me breakfast, and got me the cutest cards. Olivia painted me a picture of a rose growing out of a cliff. She is so creative. Abigail sang me, "You are my Sunshine". And I'd like to say Nathan slept through the night... but sadly, no. (He better make up for it next year, or he's out of the will.) Regardless, it was a beautiful day. And I am so, so grateful that I am a mother.


Faith. Quote. Awesome.

I have the unique opportunity right now to teach online Seminary in my Church. It has been really awesome. This morning I asked the mom of a brother/sister duo in my class to be our guest speaker. I could not have known how awesome she was going to be. Seriously. It was a great, great class. Eight years ago she found herself, 29 years old, and a widow with three small children. She shared how the Lord blessed her and did not forget her during this trial. One quote she shared that I always want to remember is:

"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind."

Usually I don't read quotes on blogs. I like to hear what the person has to say and most quotes don't hold my interest. If you are like me - go back and read the quote. It is a better message than I could ever convey. Faith is knowing that more happy days lie ahead than bad ones.

I suppose this spoke to strongly to me this morning because our time in Erie is coming to an end. I do not want to see this time end. I have not exactly been looking forward to returning to the dismal heat of the desert. I didn't think of this as a lack of faith until this morning. I have changed my attitude. I am now excited, and I realize that even better moments are lying ahead. I will miss Erie, but like the quote said, I will bring the best of it with me. 

Well duty calls... I just wanted this quote somewhere I could find it easily.

**Edited to add... Sorry kids started going crazy and I forgot to cite the quote. It's from Jeffery R. Holland, in an address to BYU students. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=12522  You can read the entire talk here... and it has a lot of gems in it.



I don't know what it is. Something happens in my brain if I get woken up in the middle of the night... and I am completely unable to fall back to sleep. It is the most frustrating thing in the world. Last night Nate woke up around 1. He fussed and whined, and was unhappy until I finally got him back to sleep around 1:45. As soon as I laid back down I knew I wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep. I tried to fight it. Just count backwards from like 9,999,999... deep breathe. Hypnosis. Nothing. Wide awake, mind racing, as I watched the clock... 2:00, 3:00, 4:00... finally just after 5am, I dozed off.

I can literally lay there and not move a muscle, with my eyes closed, for an entire hour and not fall asleep.  I try to do all sorts of mental tricks. I pray. I put a sleeping ap on my phone. When whatever shifts in my brain, shifts, it seems like no matter what I do, sleep will not come. Frustrating! So... I fall asleep sometime shortly after 5:00am. at 7:00 Nathan woke up crying. I get up and bring him in bed to nurse. I sleepily feed him... and then he starts whining. Making grumpy little sounds... and then projectile vomits all over me. And himself. And my bed. Literally emptied the entire contents of his stomach, I am sure. It's all over him and me. I start to undress him, and realize he also pooped. Like a major blowout. So with two hours of sleep, I get to clean massive amounts of puke and poop before 8:00am.

What better job is there, than motherhood?

Olivia also woke up in a mood. She screamed in Abigail's ear. And is convinced Abigail is just trying to get her in trouble. I don't think Abigail can even comprehend that yet... making up lies to get her sister in trouble... no, I don't think so. But Olivia is very hurt that I am believing Abigail.

Anyway, even though it's only 8:30am, and I only got 2 hours of sleep last night, I am still super happy. Know why? This time next week I will be in NYC!!!! Wednesday night Aaron and I are going to go see Newsies! And then spend the night at my cousins apartment and do all kinds of new yorky stuff. I am super super excited. Oh, and I'm leaving all three children behind! So so so grateful for wonderful family willing to watch my crazy brood.