Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daily Dose

He's just so. . .so . . . .so DOUG!  

She's so pretty. . .and pretty happy, too!

This is what tummy time always turns into with Kylie.  She never even attempts to roll over, just goes kind of sideways inchworm, until she's off the blanket.  This also makes her mad, as you can see with her little mouth sucking furiously away at her fist.  Keilana was rolling over at 4 weeks, Dylan at 2 weeks, both of them regularly by 5 weeks.  Kylie just isn't the busy type.  She's got nowhere to be!!  Those two were both so busy and intense!

Practicing "sitting up". She much prefers this to tummy time.  Don't ask me why.  It seems to me that laying on your tummy would be a lot more comfy than "sitting" around bent in half.  I'm pretty sure the only reason she stays up at all is that her bottom is so broad and she's all balanced out on her fat rolls. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Good Days

Do you ever have days as a parent where your children's joy is enjoyable for you in almost a selfish way?  Most of the time, seeing my children happy makes my heart light simply because they are happy.  But sometimes its because I can remember that feeling.  

Most nights I sing to each of my kids when I put them to bed.  First Dylan, then Keilana. I sit next to or on their beds and sing them some soft primary songs or hymns. Or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (the first song Keilana learned 3 years ago, it is still one of her favorites).  I completely loved growing up in a big family--there were kids everywhere, many that belonged to my parents and many that didn't--lots of good people and lots of love.  But I cherished the moments that I had my mother all to myself (truth be told, I still do).  I remember well nearly every time in my life that her attention was focused on me and that tenderness still means a lot to me.  So I pass it on and it simultaneously blesses myself and my kids.

A few days ago, the kids discovered the bathroom closet.  Oh, sure, its been there all along, but until now it was for storing diapers and wipes and extra towels.  Last week, it became a secret cave.  Now, I should come down hard on this current activity of one of them lying curled up on each shelf with the closet doors closed before they break my closet, but its just too funny to watch their mischievous delight and remember when Michael and I used to hide in closets, toy boxes and one time even the deep freeze (come to think of it as a rational adult, that was a horrendously bad idea!).  I was talking to Keilana the other day about how her aunts and uncles and I used to climb the hallway walls in Yaya's house when we were little like her.  Mom would scold us for getting our dirty, greasy fingers and feet all over her walls.  But now that I think back on it, we did it way too often for it to bother her that much.  I imagine she looked on with the same mixture of irritation and amusement that I feel when my 3 and 4 year old are hopping in and out of my bathroom closet--a combined 80 pounds hitting the shelves and floor over and over.

On the way to and from the school to pick up Keilana today, Dylan got soaked.  He managed to walk (read: half jump, half run) through every puddle on the way there, no matter its size.  I didn't have the heart to make him stop.  I love mud puddles.  Hawaii has the best mud puddles (I suppose there it would be more accurate to call them temporary ponds) and one of my favorite things about living there was the glorious rain and the monstrous puddles it left behind.  It probably wasn't the best thing for his pants and his shoes, but pants and shoes can be washed.  Puddle dancing only lasts so long before the sun comes out again.

I love my kids.  I've been having trouble focusing on the good stuff lately, as we have some jealousy/time management issues since little Kylie arrived.  But being a parent is almost as much fun as being a kid.  Some days, its even better ;)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dylan is 3!

I really can hardly believe my little boy is 3.  I have these moments every few weeks where I just stop and go "I have three kids.  My oldest is in preschool. My little boy is talking and climbing and knows the alphabet.  How did that happen?"

Dylan had a good birthday party.  We don't do big shindigs with our little clan--kids are so easily pleased, I have to admit I don't understand the ginormous parties for such little people (the exception being ginormous families, of course, where you just invite over the cousins and all of a sudden there are 25 kids there).  Grandma and Grandpa came over of course, and brought Rachel.  Paul and Christa came down as well, and I was glad, because Dylan LOVES Keith.  Seriously.  He asks for him regularly.  Keith is just as rough and tumble as the Tank, so they're a good match for each other.  

Dylan very much enjoyed the cake and chips.  I had to make a Porterville run in the morning, so I left Dylan here with Daddy and took the girls with me.  Apparently, Doug came downstairs at one point to check on Dylan who was running/dancing all over the living room, obviously very pleased with himself.  When Doug asked him what he was doing, he happily exclaimed: "I ate it! I ate it!"  Note the photo of his cake below.  He LOVES anything that flies, so I made him a very crude airplane.  His two gifts from us were an Iron Man action figure (we just had to replace his beloved but long lost Burger King toy) and Kung Fu Panda, so he's spent the last two days alternating between flying Iron Man around, doing a little high-skill Kung Fu, and driving the little remote control train from Zoran and Azia-Rain.  It was a very good birthday.

This is Doug's favorite picture from the whole day.  He's very proud of having taken it.

Isn't Alexa a pretty little girl?  I guess you can't see her face very well in this pic--but take my word for it, she's a doll!

Keith helped Dylan check out all his presents.  You know, make sure they were working OK.  2 year olds are generous like that.

Yaya got Dylan some cool binoculars.  Another one of his many mini-obsessions.  He loves binoculars and magnifying glasses.

Mimi got him this soccer ball, which was convenient since two nights previous he had turned to Doug out of the blue and said, "Daddy, I want a soccer ball"

Annie, Keilana and Dylan take in some Kung Fu action and Sun Chips while the grown ups were over at McDermont taking the requisite you're-at-our-house-you've-got-to-go-over-and-see-it tour.

I love that he lunges when he sword fights.  Cracks me up!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Growing Babies

Dylan turned 3 yesterday.  Can't hardly believe it!  Anyway, I'll write more about that after his party on Saturday, too tired to get blogging right now, so just a quick update.

Took Kylie Bear to her 2 month check up today.  She is 23.5 inches long and weighs 14 pounds even (this time, Daddy guessed it exactly right).  While I love that she's easy to hold on to and find her chubs extremely endearing, it is also rather annoying.  I went and bought her several more 3-6 month items because I was tired of trying to stretch 0-3's over here, and it has become quite apparent that the 3-6s are not going to last until June. Ha. Not even close.  Grrrr!!  Anyway, she was awesome.  For some inexplicable reason, she cried at Dr. Resa.  Both of my other kids love him, and he adores little babies.  He has mentioned several times that he would like to take Kylie home with him. Maybe she thought he was serious, because my normally very low-key and contented baby cried every time he tried to talk to her today.  Fortunately, she handled her shots really well.  She cried (that little, wimpy baby cry--not that heartbreaking shriek/howl thing) when she was actually getting stuck each time, and then let out one biggish (though still pretty wimpy) squeal on the last one (I think at that point she was just mad that it kept happening over and over).  Then I picked her up, she stopped crying and that was the end of it.  And after 5 shots and one oral vaccine, she was still smiley and cooing at me:
(Forgive the picture quality, I snapped this with my phone).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Daily Dose

Valentine's Day

Daddy spent Saturday snowshoeing up at Wolverton, so the kids and I spent the day making cookies.  Sugar cookies are one of Keilana's absolutely most favorite things to do.

The flowers Doug got me for Valentine's Day.

While I was doing some pre-cookie dishes, Dylan decided to color himself with a Sharpie.

Keilana enjoyed actually frosting the cookies.  Dylan enjoyed adding extra food coloring and eating the frosting.

Dylan was set to work on a block task while Keilana was put in charge of sprinkles.  I only need so many tiny sugar crystals all over my kitchen floor, after all.

The very proud cookie maker with her finished product.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just for comparison. . .

Ok, so there's a year's difference between the babies in these pics, but I still maintain that Kylie looks a bit like (a very, very pudgy version of) her uncle Michael.  What do you think?

Way ahead? Way behind? Stuck in the middle. . .

This weekend, one of my old girlfriends started what I like to call the "chain reaction email".  We've all done this for several years now--a group of us that grew up together have, since our high school days, all taken different directions in life.  I live here in California, another lives in Utah, another in Idaho, another in Arizona and yet another in Texas. Consequently, we don't see each other much.  But we're still important to each other, and we keep up to date as much as we can through blogs and said emails.  

Anyway, one of them mentioned that her little brother (who is still a 5th grader in my mind) is graduating from high school this spring.  Another friend replied, "Blake's graduating?. . .When did we get so old?"

So let me explain my conundrum.  Of these five girls, we are now all married, and four of us have children.  Everyone else has only one child.  Hayden, the oldest besides my kids, is 2 1/2, the other two are still babies.  So I've been married 5 years and have three kids, including one in school, while all my closest friends I grew up with have been married somewhere between 2 and 4 years and have one small child.  This makes me feel rather aged--kind of "ahead of the game", I guess, with that group.  Its a little strange having 2 kids before your friends have any (or before they're even married).  Its really nice that they have kids now, because for a while there, it made me feel like I was living in a bit of a different world.  Because, let's face it, life is different after you have a baby.  Right, ladies? :)  Goodness I love you guys!

Now switch to my life in Lindsay.  I feel like such a baby here.  All of my friends here are 5-25 years older than me, almost all of them have 2-5 more children than I do, with the oldest kids in high school.  I constantly feel like I'm a little "behind".  Fortunately, even the people I spend the most time with completely forget the age difference (until they bring up some subject about which I am clueless and I have to say, "Sorry, I don't remember that--I was only about 5 or 6".  Then they smile or laugh and ask me what year I was born and then laugh again and tell me how weird that is:) ).

I guess my point here in this rambling, semi-sensical mess, is that being "stuck in the middle"--not relating one to one with anyone in either group of friends--has been a strangely beneficial thing to me.  I am not a very competitive person by nature, nor have I ever had any kind of social ambitiousness about me, but it is human nature to want to compare ourselves to others around us, particularly persons in similar situations as ourselves, or close to our own age.  Not lining up too well with anybody around has been a constant reminder to not measure myself against anyone else.  "Ahead" or "behind" doesn't matter--I'm right where I am supposed to be.  I may not be able to relate to Angie's tweenager headaches, but I can relate to her pregnancy aches and her toddler tantrums.  Callie might not be able to relate to watching my 4 year old make my baby smile, but she can certainly relate to my elation over watching my curious baby learn new things everyday (and Laura can certainly relate to toddler tantrums and 2 year olds who have missed their naps--oh, Sam and Callie, the joys that await you! I wish you the best of luck with your already very busy little boys! :)  ).

I was always a little weird.  I learned early on that as much as I wanted to fit quietly into the background and to have deep emotional connections to certain people, many of things I wanted were going to require me to stand alone, and at times make me feel or appear a bit alien.  That was uncomfortable for a while (and still is in moments), but I am so grateful that I made the decisions I did.  And, more than that, I am grateful that the Lord never let me stand truly alone. Since finding Doug, I have never felt the sometimes terrible loneliness that would sneak up on me when I was younger.  The connection I have to him is something bigger and deeper than I ever hoped to have with anyone--more than I ever thought was possible, actually.  I am more comfortable with him than I believed I could be with anyone.  To feel so completely safe and understood with another human being is a privileged gift indeed.  If I ever lost him, God forbid, I'd probably remain single til I died, because the conversations and quiet understandings that we have are hard to even imagine ever finding with someone else.

But before that, the Lord always put wonderful people in my life to take the edge off.  There was Brett and Erica--who understood so well and never stopped reaching out to and praying for me.  Their patience was amazing.  There was John, who didn't always understand but was always supportive, whether it was a hug or a happy wink or a teary conversation (how important it was to have someone in life back then I wasn't ashamed to cry in front of), he was always happy to give.  There was Sam.  Our friendship has gone through several revolutions, but has meant more to me than any other friend I have ever had.  She had no sisters, and my sisters were a fair amount older than me and closer to each other, and she filled that gap for me.  She became my unofficial sister, and in many ways I still feel much closer to her than I do to my own sisters.  To have someone (other than my wonderful Doug) to whom I can speak openly about the things I feel the most deeply is a precious gift I try never to take for granted.

The Lord knows me well and has always provided me with exactly what I needed when I needed it (even if I was too much of a dunce to realize it until after the fact).  Independence is over rated.  We ought to be independent enough to make our up our own mind in a responsible manner and take care of those under our stewardship, but something that frequent independence (being "outside the group", so to speak) has taught me is that there is much to be gained from accepting our dependence on one another (and ultimately on the Lord, of course).  There is no shame in being different, of course, when the situation is such.  But there is no shame in fitting in, either.  Sometimes, that can be our greatest blessing.

What was I talking about? I got off track here.  I guess my point is, I'm OK with (and even grateful for) the ways in which I'm different--not just in number of years married or number of children born, but everything else, too.  But I'm also OK with and quite grateful for the ways that we're the same.  I love those moments when I open my mouth and hear one of my sisters or my Mom in my voice.  I love the things I have in common with my wonderful friends.  I'm grateful to the Lord for the people in my life and the things I share in common with them.  For those connection in life that matter, and for the trust I have in Him that those connections do not end when this life is over.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


***Disclaimer: this blog is very selfish.  But I just had to get it out tonight.****

Tomorrow is (would've been?) Conner's 3rd birthday.   I was walking through the store today thinking about things I might get Dylan for his birthday, and thinking how I might feel if he weren't here, thinking about how I feel because Conner's not.  Thinking about losing him.  Strange to think that phone call came more than a year and a half ago--that he's now been gone longer than he was here.  I think I can finally talk about it.

What a strange, strange day it was (well, it was like living for weeks in a bizzaro world, but that first day especially).  It was the middle of the afternoon on Friday, and I was getting ready for Girls Camp that was to start Monday morning.  I was listening to the music for camp and thinking what a wonderful opportunity it was and just how generally great life was.  I started walking up the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.


"Do you have a car today?"

"Who is this?"

"Its Manda.  Do you have a car? Could you come pick up Clayton?"

"Sure. Doug's got the car, but I could go get it.  What's up?"

"Conner drowned."

At those words, my brain shut off (self-defense mechanism, I suppose) and I started running on auto-pilot.  I called Doug and told him that I was coming to get the car because I had to go to Hanford and pick up Clayton.  When he asked why, I rather matter-of-factly said, "Conner drowned."  With a horribly screaching, cracked voice he said, "To death?!"  Automatic pilot off, uncontrollable sobbing on.

I rushed the kids over to Doug's office.  Clayton Lucas and his wife, Lora, just happened to be there (they had moved back into town that week, and had been having lunch with Scot) and offered to take the kids for us.  So we hurriedly unloaded their car seats and drove way too fast across 198.  When we got there, Clayton was playing outside with a little stuffed animal the nurses had given them.  Amanda was going through moments of steadiness with random waves of tears.  I saw him briefly--he looked so small, hooked up to his breathing tubes.  His eyes weren't open, but not quite shut all the way.  A few glances from a distance away across the room was all I could handle.  While Doug and Amanda and Tim talked, I prayed over and over that the Lord would spare his life, make him whole.  After about an hour it occurred to me that I was praying for what I wanted, not asking the Lord to help me accept whatever His will may be.  As soon as that thought entered my mind, I figured that was a foreshadowing of things to come, and I started crying again and said a brief prayer: "Heavenly Father, if Thou see fit, please heal this little boy.  If that's not Thy will, please give me the strength to be the kind of support Amanda and Tim will need.  Just give me the strength to believe that whatever happens is right. Please.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

When they got him stable enough to chopper to Valley Children's, I put Clayton and Rachel in my car with me and drove home to my kids.  Doug got in Mom's car and drove up to Valley Children's with her and Chuck to be with Amanda and Tim, come what may.  We made lots of phone calls that afternoon and evening.  Already we knew it didn't look good.  Just being awake was exhausting.  

That night, Mom and Dad and Doug got back to our house just before 11.  I had put the other 3 kids to bed for the night (cuddling Clayton extra long) and so we talked a bit.  Doug and Chuck had given Conner a blessing, and it was abundantly clear that it was a final blessing.  So now we were all kind of waiting.  The worst possible kind of waiting.

Doug and I had finally decided to go to bed, and just as we laid down, the phone rang. I didn't want to answer.  Mom simply said, "Conner's gone."  I knocked on the door of the room Nate and Melissa were staying in to let them know.  Then I went and got Keilana out of her bed, Dylan out of his crib and Clayton off the floor, and arranged them all snugly in the bed between Doug and I.  One child was gone, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it.  And so I needed to know that the others were safe--I needed to feel their soft, warm little bodies next to me, needed to see the rise and fall of their breath and just know that they were OK.

For that first week I had to convince myself that it wasn't counter productive for Amanda to be around me.  I felt so awful for her, that I could barely control myself.  She would watch Dylan with this unintentionally heartbreaking look on her face and I knew that if the shoe were on the other foot, every time I looked at Conner I would think, "Dylan's not here. I don't have my little boy."  I felt almost guilty that I still had my baby, when she had had to watch hers slip away.  I have finally learned how to cope and thus be a better friend to her--we can talk about him now with smiles and laughter, and in moments when the laughter turns to heavy sighs or tears, I can give her a hug or a hand on the shoulder with only minimal tummy flops, rather than feeling like my entire stomach has been turned inside out.  

I had nightmares for months afterward about losing one of my kids (often in the nightmares the child I lost was one I hadn't had yet in reality).  Those began to subside last summer and finally stopped altogether.  Its caused me to think a lot about my grandmother.  She lost one child shortly after birth, another when he was in his 20s, still another when she was in her 50s.  It doesn't seem fair that any mother should have to bury three of her own children.  But my grandma seems to just accept that life is, in fact, unfair.  She isn't a sad or bitter woman.  She trusts that, as much as she'd love to have her children with her,  that where they are is a better place.  If I lost one of my children, I am positive I would be heartbroken and devastated.  Because of her example and my testimony of the Gospel, I think I'd be OK.  I'm grateful for that comfort.

I will never forget my sweet little 3 year old comforting me that week.  She asked me the next morning if Conner was still at the hospital.  "No, sweetie," I said, "Conner died. He went back to Heavenly Father."  She looked up at me and smiled and said, "So no more owies?!"  I smiled back at her and said, "No, sweetie, he'll never have any more owies ever again."  She threw her hands up in the air and said, "Yay!! No more owies for Conner!!"  A few days later at the family viewing just prior to the funeral, she asked me if she could give Conner a kiss goodbye.  I lifted her up so that she could lean over the casket and kiss his forehead.  She gave him a quiet little kiss and then told me, "He's going to be with Jesus Christ now.  He'll be OK."  Out of the mouths of babes.

My own son's birthday will for me always be tied to little strings of grief for a cousin he won't even remember.  But that's OK, because I don't ever want to forget.  His little rubber-legged Gollum walk, his beautiful mouth, his big, marvelous blue eyes, his ridiculously peaceful, contented nature.  I want to remember it all.  And Dylan will be my reminder.  I will always carry in my mind and heart my last memory of the two of them together--both of them 16 months old walking up to me together, each of them with a cup in his hand, shoving it up toward me, saying "Mama! Mama!" together, hoping for more juice.  And then, just a little later, both of them chasing Amanda, shouting, "Mama! Mama!" in search of more fruit snacks.  Every time Dylan snuggles up to his auntie Amanda and goes crazy playing monster with his uncle Tim, I remember and am grateful for how special their little boy was to me.  I'm grateful they shared him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2 Months Old!

Our little Kylie bear hit 2 months today.  Not sure exactly how big she is. . .doctor's appointment a week from today. . . .pictures from today and yesterday. . . . .

Beautiful blue eyes and strawberry hair

Of all my chubby babies (and they've all been very pudgy), she is the rolliest.

These two really love each other

She loves being talked to. . .she's almost never alone. . .someone's usually in her face

All gussied up for Valentine's Day

Fun with the new camera. . .

Since Circuit City is closing out, we got a killer deal and broke down and bought a new camera.  We bought a Nikon D40, and I've been just playing around getting to know it the last couple of days, so just a few random shots from Mommy playing with settings and figuring stuff out. Obviously, been working on headshots/closeups so far.


I'm 24 years old. I've given birth three times, always naturally with little to no complications, and welcomed 3 healthy, happy, normal, chubby babies who have become wonderful healthy, happy children. I have a generous, intelligent, attentive husband who adores me (really--for whatever love-deluded reasons, he thinks I'm totally fantastic) and is an excellent and doting father to my children.  I own my own home with enough room to grow for a while, within easy walking distance of work, school, parks and stores.  I have a very large and loving extended family and in-laws.  I have been blessed with marvelous friends near and far.  We only have one car, and in 4 years have never had any major problems with it.  My husband has a good job that he (usually) enjoys, that pays us well enough to live more comfortably than about 85% of people on the planet and to boot has allowed us to be a part of a unique and very special project that has served and will serve the community and, we believe, in its own small but important way is building Zion.  We have never, ever been hungry (unless we were intentionally fasting), our children have never gone without needed clothing, shoes, or medical care.  Though we aren't rich, we have enough money to play here and there and buy ourselves little presents now and again.  We are part of a ward that is growing rapidly through convert baptisms.  I have a worthy Priesthood holder in my home, and a temple-centered marriage.  I don't have to work in order for my family to be solvent--we may not have as many toys as some, but we have plenty and, though some days I want to throttle them, I wouldn't trade my time with my (currently napping) children for anything.  When I had to suddenly leave town on a family emergency, a sister who happened to be standing there when I got word took my kids without a moment's hesitation (or preparation!).  During a time of family grief, another sister remembered it was my birthday and showed up with flowers and a treat and just sat with me for a couple of hours, listening and encouraging.  When my baby was sick, two total strangers took time out of their weekend to meet us at the hospital and help administer to a little boy they'd never seen before and would likely never see again.  When I was very pregnant, very broke and very pedestrian, friends loaned me their car to get to doctor's appointments with ease, asking nothing in return.  When I have my babies, families come to our door with meals, gifts, flowers and loving thoughts.  My life is so easy.  My burdens are so light.  My blessings are abundant. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Almost makes me wish

mine were blue.  Pretty blue-eyed girls.  From a very brown-eyed mommy.

Saturday at Pine Flat

So Saturday Doug and I took the kids to the home and patio show at the Visalia Convention Center.  Ho hum.  It wasn't quite what we expected, but we got in for free, so no love lost.  All loaded back up and in the car we decided we were in a wandering mood (when are we not?).  So we called Paul and Christa to see if they'd like to join our wandering.  We met up in Sanger, originally thinking we'd head up to the snow, but since this was a spur of the moment idea, we weren't really snow-ready, so we decided to head up to Pine Flat dam instead, let the kids run around by the river and such.  It was a fun, relaxed afternoon.  It was nice to be out (we haven't done a lot of wandering/outside time since Kylie was born).  The kids had a blast, and here's the evidence:

Our whole pack (sans Doug the photographer, of course).  That's Alexa under that checkered blanket:)

Keilana and Dylan LOVE throwing rocks in water--it can literally entertain them for hours.  Keith liked that, too, though I noticed he was fond of throwing in sticks as well.

Our little Canon has some fun features, one being the ability to play with the color settings.  The boys were in blue. . . . 

. . .and Keilana in pink

This one was based off the brown in Paul's sweatshirt--check out how well it picked up their skin tones!

Oh, their hair.  I love their hair.

These two are the ultimate boys.  They love each other, though I swear they've got to spend half their time fighting.  Monsters, the both of them. 

So, we tried to get a picture of all the kids sitting in this cool tree.  Dylan took off.  He climbed to the top of this branch, and then got stuck.  He couldn't go any further, but didn't know how to get down, either.  

Looking like a treed cat! :)

Snapped one last shot (not realizing the color settings were still altered) before Christa climbed to the rescue.  I thought we should just leave him there until he got desperate enough to jump, but that could've taken a while.  

We did get a few photos before he escaped:)