Thursday, May 26, 2011

blogging vacation

I have been thinking about taking a blogging vacation over the past few days.  My mind is spilling over with so many thoughts and memories I want to record, but our lives are growing so busy right now that I just can't seem to find the time to write.

We showed our house six times in the last two days.  We also took the boys to t-ball, attended a party, worked on our broken sprinklers, had parent-child dates, did many various painting/sewing projects, started some new, additional, health-inducing habits, devoured a few books, used out new Safety-Shield system a couple times, started packing boxes, cleaned out a moth-eaten piano (one of the GROSSEST things I have ever done - yuck!), tried a few new recipes, did some serious treasure-hunt/thrift shopping, and tied up some loose ends left and right. Phew!

This is all in the midst of day-to-day life.  But honestly, lately, I haven't made too many phone calls, written much, taken too many naps or gone to bed early.  The laundry is all the way to the ceiling in the laundry room (every time I pull it out someone calls to see the house), and I NEED to go grocery shopping....yesterday.  I've been bouncing around the idea of cutting out a few guilty pleasures, such as blogging and watching Cosby at night after the boys are in bed, and the past few days I've accidentally done those things.  I simply haven't had time.

I think I'm really naturally learning to create margin in my life, and I'm starting to recognize and cope with "there's-too-much-going-on-in-my-life-right-now" situations.  This is one of those times, however simple and small to someone else.  My stress threshold just isn't that high right now, and I kinda like it that way.

A few things have happened recently that have made me wonder if my body is beginning to heal.  Some of it is the way I am thinking, and some of it is physical.  One of those physical things is happening right now.  I am extremely happy and excited about it, but it's also got me bedridden for the time being as I curl up under the covers, nauseous from the excruciating pain.  Although that sounds awful, it's really a thing we've been celebrating and adapting to.  Lucky for me, Wes happened to be at the beginning of his days off when it hit, and good ol' Mr. Sunshine decided to visit me too.  That's been a huge help and I've been able to just relax and soak in the sun during the moments we are not busy between showings and kids and sprinklers and the like.  I feel so grateful for life's many blessings and miracles.

Anyway, to make a long story short, since I've by default started a "blogging vacation", I'm going to go ahead and stay on vacation for a week or two until things begin to slow down a little.  I have some more loose ends to tie, and with them will come a little more simplicity and margin in my life - our lives - again.  I am anxious to continue writing, but eager to cut a few things back and make life easier for a little while.  I can't wait to share my experiences with you when I return.  I'm considering turning this into a full "media fast" that I read about in "Margin".  I will have to see if I can pull that one off. 

We'll see.

So for now, ta-ta.  I hope you all have a fun-filled, relaxing Memorial weekend.  I hope you all get to enjoy the beautiful, warm sunshine that we have been engulfed with amidst all the fresh spring rain.  The air outside is clear and beckoning.  I think it may be time to pull out and hang Wes' hammock from Panama.  A nap in the sunshine sounds so heavenly and healing and indulgent.  I think I might....

See you later!

Friday, May 20, 2011


I had to laugh at this picture.  Please excuse the poor quality and composition.  All I want you to look at is our little "Squirt".  My dad is always teasing that Jonah looks like the baby turtle in "Finding Nemo", and I have to agree when I see this. 

I love my little squirt.


I know it's a little, okay, a lot late, but I had to do just a little post about the wonderful Easter we had this year.

Our family likes to spread it all out throughout the week.  I got this fabulous book a few years ago that had a list of different traditions you could tie into each day of Easter week, and we've started with that and modified a little each year.  This was the first year the boys were old enough to really get into it.  And they seemed to grasp so much more about Easter when we focus on a little bit at a time and go a little more in-depth on it.

Some of my favorite things we've done are a Palm Sunday reenactment where we dress up and someone rides a donkey/Daddy, and we celebrate Jesus' arrival.  They loved it and wanted to do it over and over.  I also have some felt board stories about the miracles of Jesus, and also about the crucifixion.  We did those throughout the week, and by the end of the week they were telling us the stories.  It was amazing to see how much they learned.  The parts that really got to me though were the Jerusalem dinner and the movie, "The Lamb of God". 

The boys were way excited about the dinner and continually asked more and more questions about, "When Jesus lived, did they eat/do/have ____?"  It was fun to see their curiosity and understanding grow.  And it really led perfectly into the next day, which was the day we watched, "The Lamb of God" - Good Friday.

I had a little bit of a hard time watching them watch the movie.  I kept wondering if they would be okay....I wondered if they were a little too young for it.  They really had a hard time watching it.  But man alive, it was a humbling experience for all of us.  Taking the time to really stop and develop and even further understanding about what happened that day and the physical and emotional despair felt by our Savior was very moving.  I felt the spirit so strong and I know they did too.  I feel so, so grateful for those moments I got to share with them.

The rest of the Easter week was similar.  We kept it simple but Christ-centered.  Easter morning was a little weird this year because Wes had to work.  We did a little devotional early and then the boys hunted for their baskets.  Once they found the baskets, it was all about the candy.  The Easter bunny also loves to throw a few little things in there, so they go scripture stickers and a Scripture Scouts CD.  He also gave them sunglasses and water bottles to use at Disneyland, and Jonah got a few little bath toys.  Daddy gobbled up Jonah's treats when he got home that night.  I gave Wes an Easter basket filled with plastic eggs, each naming something I loved about him.  He loved it and so did I.  I love how stopping and telling someone how you feel really confirms and strengthens those feelings to you as well.  It felt so good to be able to do something thoughtful for him after all he's done for me these past few months.  I truly am the luckiest woman alive. 

Easter morning we always go on a hunt.  The Easter bunny leaves a few "clues" with treats on them until the last clue takes them to their basket.  The boys were really into "the hunt" this year and actually remembered it from last year.  It's fun to see some of the traditions we've developed start to stick on their own.

I don't know why they love those darn peeps, but let's just say the Easter bunny was looking long and hard for them the night before because he didn't realize that they were apparently the best treat of all the Easter treats.  Micah dug right in before he even finished scoping his basket out!
 I know it's out of focus, but I loved the full mouth and Kolton busily opening candy himself.  We don't eat tons of candy around here, so I guess it's a bigger deal at Easter than I realized.

I love how you can see the swollen, I-didn't-sleep-last-night-from-excitement-and-I-woke-up-too-early-this-morning-eyes.  Nothing like the magic and excitement of the holidays.

You can see those adorable eyes even better here:

And this little guy wasn't sure what to think, but thought everything tasted good...

I feel so blessed to have Easter every year.  I love Christmas, but sometimes I wonder if I love Easter even more.  I just love having a holiday that psreads over a few days.  A holiday where our family can grow, our love can grow, and our love and understanding of the gospel and our Savior can grow.  I always feel like my testimony grows so much during the times when I am able to remember "the reason for the season" and focus on that fully.  And it was an amazing, unexpected, added blessing to see those little seeds start to be planted in our children.  I feel so blessed to have the gospel in our lives.

Happy Easter! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

lee's performance at the tabernacle

Last week we got a real treat.

Wes' dad, Lee, was singing in a mens' choir at the Tabernacle.  I forgot all the details like who the director was or even what the program was called, but I will never forget the incredible beauty and spirit that was there.  It was almost tangible.

As we were dropping our stroller off outside, I couldn't help but fall in love with the blue sky and the American flag blowing so beautifully right in front of the temple.
Just remember that this is all raw.  I don't love the shadow in the front or the off-centeredness.  But considering I snapped it while Wes was dragging me away, I think they turned out pretty well.  The temple is so beautiful!

We walked in and found a seat.  I just couldn't resist the urge to snap a couple pictures of Lee before the program began (they said no photography).  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get his attention, so these are some shots of him looking for all of us:

It was A.MAZE.ING.

My favorite number was this African Procession.  It was so joyful and powerful.  I loved it!
They had a mix of everything from folk hymns to Disney songs to cultural songs from other countries.  It was all unique and beautiful.

I am so grateful for my father-in-law and his musical talents.  I'm so grateful we got the opportunity to partake of such inspirational music.

And the temple was equally beautiful when we left.  Once again, we didn't have much time, so Wes patiently hurried me along.  But he did give me a little time to get these:

I a so grateful that we got the opportunity to go out and see Lee sing.  I also feel very grateful to live so close to such a beautiful and special place to me (Wes and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple.).  I'm so grateful for temples and the opportunity to go there often.  We are so blessed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

another first

This little boy has had many "firsts" lately. He is growing up so fast I can hardly stand it!
  Wes and I took the boys to a puppet show at the library this morning.  For many reasons I won't go into, we ended up separated inside: me with the big boys and Wes with baby J in the back of the room.

Every now and then I could hear Jonah's little calls to me.  I looked back at him and saw what couldn't have been mistaken for anything else because it was s obvious:  a wave hello. 

Man, this boy is thinking outside the box.

First with, "Mama" and now with waving "hello" rather than "bye-bye", he has had another week of many firsts and they are different from what his brothers did.

He continued his waving every time he could catch my eye, and I drank it all in like a desert flower. 

This boy makes me feel so special.  I only wish he would stop growing so fast!  Love you, big J.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I get to look at some pretty darn cute faces every day.
Like this funny face:
I just LOVE this boy's green eyes.

Or this equally silly face:

 Or this loving, knee-weakening, handsome face:

Or this teething face (which is almost always covered in drool):

Something special that came out of that last face is the word, "Mama".  Talk about melt my heart!  Not only did he say my name, but he said my name as his very first word.  That was a first and I feel so honored.  (I have a feeling it has a lot to do with the fact that he seems to be cutting all his teeth at once, but I'll take it nonetheless.)  Now I wake up to "Mama," every morning and whenever he needs me.  I love it!

I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have so many wonderful "faces" surrounding me every day.

land of obey - a parent's must-have

I am a big, huge believer in proactive parenting.   I believe setting limits, rules, and expectations for our kids is a really good thing.  It's good for them and also for me.  I love knowing how to follow through with things, how to stay consistent.  And I love even more that they are learning to make good choices and be responsible kids.

That being said, I am not a huge believer in negative attention as a parenting tool.  I think (at least my kids) they get enough of that just by existing.  I notice in our family that the less consistent we are, the more negative attention and reinforcement we give our kids.  It seems like when you have clear guidelines and expectations, everyone knows what's going on, how to behave, and how our family functions.  We are all happy and harmonious for the most part.  But when things get out of control - maybe we get off schedule because we are too busy, sick, etc.  For whatever reason, sometimes we get inconsistent, and things seem to spiral very quickly out of control.  That's when I seem to turn into a "mean mommy".

I don't particularly like "mean mommy" myself, and I know my kids don't.  Something that really seems to help when "mean mommy" wants to come out more is this little doozy from Brite.  (We also have the book and CD at the bottom and they are fantastic!) It's truly a great mother's helper.  It's called a "Land of Obey" chart, but I like to use it for many things.  You are supposed to move the square forward when you notice your kids obeying.  I've also been known to move the train forward for helping out around the house, doing jobs without being asked, getting along well with siblings, sharing, going to sleep at bedtime/naptime, etc.  Hey, the more positive reinforcement and attention the better!

Here is a picture of our chart:


*One other thing I would like to mention though, is that I did also tweak the rules in the sense that I matter-of-factly, non-emotionally, move the train backwards when there is a problem.  When someone tells a lie, sneaks into things, doesn't mind after multiple reminders, has problems at bedtime, etc.  I never threaten to move it back, I just do it.  When I move it forward, I try to stay consistent with that guideline also - with the exception of bedtime.  At bedtime, I always remind them how many squares (it's usually two - if I think they need a little extra motivation, I will offer three spaces) they can get if they go right to sleep without playing.  Most of the time it works and they go right to sleep.  It they don't, I take away a square, and so on an so forth.  I will move it backwards at bedtime if need be.  They always get to a point where they start to realize that they are not choosing the behavior that's in their best interest and decide to settle down and sleep.

This has really been a great help around here.  It's great too because I can offer train squares away from home, let the babysitters and Daddy use it, etc.  It's so versatile.  There are a few "train stops" on the chart where you can get a treat.  The treat is usually a little candy - a couple M & Ms, a dumdum, a few marshmallows.  But sometimes it will be 10 minutes of Donkey Kong, or doing a craft.  The trick it to keep it fresh and keep it simple.  It's like a little pat on the back and extra motivation to keep on going.

When our boys reach the end of the chart, they get something special.  I have a prize bucket with really "awesome" prizes (Chinese yoyos, Ring pops, harmonica, slinky, flashlights, matchbox cars, trio blocks, etc.  I do NOT like "junky" toys for this because they are working very hard to earn them and I want them to have something that's going to last (Kolton chose a little tape measure last time, and it has been played with every day since.  It's come places with us, and he's even slept with it.  Micah chose a ring pop and he was bummed about his choice once the sucker disappeared. I wasn't sure what to do, but decided to leave it at that. He is working VERY hard right now to earn that lizard he was debating choosing last time. He asks how close he is every day. I'm so proud of what this is teaching him.) and I will pay a little extra to get them something that they'll really like.  Or sometimes we'll go somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese or Jungle Jim's or even just feeding the ducks at the park.  I try to keep it simple, but very special.  I love how proud of themselves they get at the end.

Here is a picture of our prize bucket:

It's fun to see it "click" when we've done it a few times and now they get what is going on and want to move their trains faster.  I never hesitate to move them, although I typically don't move them when they ask me to.

This is a simple, versatile, fabulous tool for our family and it does wonders for obedience, bedtime, and just overall harmony in our home.  I just thought I'd share this little treasure with you in case you'd like to try it too.  I'm a big believer in positive parenting and this has been a fun, simple way to do more of it.  It's also been great for learning "justice and mercy" which are the values next month over at Power of Moms

I hope you enjoy the "Land of Obey" chart, and I would welcome any other suggestions from books, games, activities, etc.  Anything and everything would be worth sharing.  I am having a little tougher time with this value (I think I am rusty from my "writing vacation" I took while I've been sick) and I would love to hear input from other moms - about all ages of children - about what works for you to teach the value of "Justice and Mercy".   I might even have a little prize up my sleeve for anyone who has input.  ;)  We parents, and especially mothers, need to be a team and collaborate all our ideas so we can help each other out.  Think of how incredibly fabulous that would be! 

Either way, feel free to check out the chart (it's even on sale right now).  I hope you love it as much as I do.  It's a keeper around here for sure!

alice in wonderland

We saw something a little out of the ordinary for us last week.

Wes' little sisters, Emilee and Lauren, were in a play, "Alice in Wonderland".

We love to go to plays, but being able to see someone we know in the play is a little less common for us.  It was a real treat.
Lauren is on the left.
Emilee is to the right of the flowers.

Something I thought was kind of cute was the girls' reactions to my taking pictures.  Emilee totally ate up the camera - in every picture she s looking right at me with a big 'ol cheesy grin!  Lauren either didn't notice me there, or shyly tried her darndest not to notice.  I think it was the latter.  ;)  They are so darling!

Here they are together in this one.  Sisters and best friends.
Our boys were quite captivated for the whole performance.  They were glued to it the entire time.

I snuck up to the front of the stage to take some pictures (I didn't have my zooming lens as you can probably already tell), and the boy followed me up.  They loved getting a little closer view of the whole thing.

My mother-in-law warned us about a two-hour long curtain call at the end, so we opted to take our extremely tired boys (It was one of those LONG, BUSY Saturdays) home to bed.  There were many tears when they realized they wouldn't be able to play with Emilee and Lauren.  So we decided to distract them with a little bit of hill-rolling and running races before we got into the car and headed home.  They had a blast!

I'm glad we got the chance to watch Emilee and Lauren perform.  We are so proud of them.  They are such wonderful sisters and aunts and we feel so blessed to have them as a part of our family.  The boys look up to them so much!  I feel so grateful for their friendship to me and my boys, and even mroe grateful that the boys have such fabulous examples to follow. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We are SO glad to finally have a few sunny days around here! 
 Sunny enough to squint our eyes....

.....and to look for bugs.

Sunny enough to crawl all over Timbuktu....

....and back.

And best of all, sunny and warm enough to have some adorable, rosy cheeks!

Dear Sunshine,
It was so nice to visit with you these past couple days.  Please stay and visit for a LONG time. 
Megan (and her sunshine-loving kids)


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