Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthday Boys

We kept birthday celebrations pretty low key this year, but that doesn't mean we love these boys any less!  On Marshall's actual birthday we took the boys to Antigravity (a big trampoline arena) in St. George because I promised them we would go do something we've never done before.  They were super excited to run wild there.  I left my good camera in the car (I had to ditch the "party" to go take pictures at a wedding) so all we have here are photos from my phone.  At least we have a little something :)  They played in the bounce houses for just a little bit before we all went crazy on the trampolines.  The boys had races with dad and I showed them a trick or two by bouncing off the "walls."

Here's Macy, her festive bow was in the boys' honor.

When we all made it home that night we found a special delivery on the porch from Marshall's "girlfriend," Meg Bringhurst.  A box of cookies with his name on it!  
Marshall thought that was pretty cool!

On this same day we also watched Marshall play soccer (they won 2-1) and ate lunch at Subway.  On Tyler's actual birthday we met up with some family at Krave for some yummy frozen yogurt.

On the weekend between their birthdays we had cake and presents at Grandma and Grandpa Stratton's house.  Their cousins gave them some awesome Ninja Turtle toys and the boys were freaking out as they opened them.  I got a hilarious video as well as a couple pics on, you guessed it, my phone.  (It's just so much easier than carrying around my big camera.  I'm getting lazy, I suppose.)

Dirty Boys

A few weeks ago Colby got extremely ambitious and removed all the sand from our sandbox to replace it with much softer, nicer sand.  These pictures are from the night the new sand got put in.  I wish so badly I had pulled the video camera out and gotten some footage of the kids while the sand was getting put in.  Colby and Randy (our neighbor) would bring the back hoe back and dump a load and the kids would jump to the top, grab any sticks or debris they could find, throw it out, then run like mad as the back hoe approached again.  It was hilarious!

All the boys had faces like this!  Pure exploding excitement, right here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The fun has arrived!

We've had a big week and I hope to get it all recorded right away.  First thing on the docket is our approach into farm life.  I doubt it will get much closer than this, but I'm loving it right now.  

A few weeks ago I got a phone call informing me that "Grandpa thinks the little boys need to hatch some chicks..." and after a few minutes of securing the details I learned the process would not be taking place at Grandpa's house.  Haha.  The incubator would be coming our way and we'd get to see it all happen at our house.  To be honest, this didn't really bother me at all.  I'm not a major animal lover, but I don't mind them either.  I guess I'm fairly indifferent, but baby anything is so adorable so I was on board.

The first action started to happen on Thursday.  There was a ton of anticipation and the first little guy finally hatched right about bedtime.  We let the boys stay up to see it and Tyler named him Chucker.

Once he was hatched I was a nervous wreck.  I had read different peoples' advice and stories online (so dumb) and was nervous one might die.  Who knows what I would have done to prevent that, but I really just didn't want to kids to wake up super early all excited to see if more chicks had hatched and find one dead before I did.  So I slept on the couch where I could hear them and be aware enough to check on them.  Here's what I did for most of the night... stared at a lonely chick.

A little before 6am I woke to a bunch of cheeping and wouldn't you know it... another chick had hatched!!  After that I headed to bed and probably 45 minutes later Colby informed me we now had three chickens.  That third one really shocked me because it didn't seem anywhere close to hatching when I checked less than an hour before.  The boys were so excited to find out there were more when they woke up and Tyler exclaimed, "Marshall!!  Chucker is not alone anymore!"  It was so cute.

#4 snuck right out of his shell while Tyler and I were both in the kitchen, I was doing dishes, and #5 sat in half his shell just long enough for me to yell to Tyler to hurry and come see him hatch.  We caught the end of that one on the video camera for Marshall to see when he got home from school.  At this point we had Chucker, Black Jet, Fluffy, Crusher, and Estelle; named by Tyler, Marshall, the boys, Daddy, and Mommy, respectively.  

The sixth one hatched later on Friday and it just so happened that we were all home to see the whole process (this one was strong and fast) and Aunt Megan even got to watch on Facetime.  It was a tiny bit of a shock to her that a chick is not so cute right when it first hatches.  I sent her this picture once he finally got on his feet.

Saturday was Marshall's birthday and we were so excited for the 7th egg to hatch that morning before Marshall's soccer game.  This was the only chick that was not mostly black with some white markings. It was decided after the game that #6 would be named Pepper because of the black marking on his beak and #7 would be Ralph, after Wreck It Ralph.  He was pretty yellow looking at first but has definitely become a more golden brown.

If I had to choose a favorite, Ralph is the prettiest, Fluffy is the sweetest, and Estelle is just great because I named her and she's the smallest of them all.  Fluffy stayed right by tiny little Estelle when she was first hatched and seemed to have a real motherly instinct.  It made me assume she is a she.  We haven't bothered one little bit to be certain of genders otherwise... their names seem to have determined that instead.

In this picture, Marshall is holding Black Jet and Tyler is holding Chucker.

 This is the first five when they got moved into their little home on our kitchen table.  It's fun having them right where we can see them but they are starting to make our whole house stink so they'll probably be heading out to the garage soon.  If I remember correctly, the one on the very left is Black Jet, to the right of him is Chucker, at the very top is Crusher, the one with the most white is Fluffy, and Estelle is the small one at the bottom of the picture.

Karter and Brigham ended up with nine hatching, I think, and they and us shared a few with Great Aunt Diane so her Kindergarten class could enjoy having chicks around.  We said goodbye to Crusher and Pepper and used the money they were paid to put in their Disneyland Jar.  (Yes, we are saving for a someday trip to Disneyland.)  The plan is to sell the others as they get a little bigger because Daddy says we are not ready for chickens at our house just yet.  And Mommy wasn't sure if she did or didn't want them, so it's a good thing Daddy knew what he wanted.

I have to say, they have been a fun little distraction.  They are so cute and have funny mannerisms.  The other night I found myself staring over them, just watching instead of going to bed.  It's hard to not get attached...  I think the goal of Disneyland is the only thing that will allow the boys to part with them.  Here's Macy checking them out.  She likes them too.


The other day I was lying in a yoga class enjoying a small moment of peace.  The instructor was giving us some words of encouragement because we had done some challenging things in class that day.  As she was talking she mentioned that "repetition builds stability" and it really spoke to me.  I had my eyes closed as I tried to really process the concept and tears started sneaking down my cheeks!!!  It was just what I had been needing to hear all week long.

The past week I had begun to feel the pressures of the world resting heavily on my shoulders.  This was the first time I had really felt like I could relate to this idea that many other women feel overwhelmed by.  You know... "I have to be pretty.  I have to be thin.  I have to be organized.  I have to be patient.  I have to be smart.  Blah, blah, blah."  It hit me when I was in the middle of a busy morning... the dishes weren't completely done, neither was the laundry, or any other household chore.  Everything was either started or at a tolerable point in the process for me to stop and go on with the next thing I needed to do.  (These kinds of tasks are always interrupted by the needs of one or all of my children and sometimes by other important things too.  I've had a lot of photography work the last few weeks so I was now juggling that as well.)  On this chaotic morning we were running behind in our morning routine because Macy was awake during the whole thing which is rare and just slowed us down a little bit.    I didn't get Marshall's lunch made but promised I would bring it when I came to help in his class.  As the kids are piling into the van I find that the battery was dead for one reason or another so I holler for everyone to jump out so we can climb into the truck.  Those added minutes were not what I was hoping for at this point in our routine, but what do you do?  As I grab the truck keys off the shelf I realize there's a good chance I'm going to have to check Marshall into school late and I was running around in my nightgown (granny style!).  I kind of take a couple steps toward the truck then a couple steps to the house, back and forth, debating whether I should run in and change my clothes or just get in the truck and hope we make it just in the nick of time.  I decided that Marshall would surely be late if I changed so we would chance it.  The truck is pretty tall so I find myself having to lift the boys in as plenty of cars are driving past my house catching me in such a glamorous moment still looking like a crazy old nightgown lady.  Oh well.  Thankfully, we made it to school in time for Marshall to jump out and get into school before he was "late."  Phew!  But this was all just a little more chaotic than a normal morning.  On top of all this, I'm pretty sure Tyler was in a mood, but I can't remember specifics anymore.  All I remember is it wasn't even 9 in the morning and I wanted to crawl back in bed and just wake up the next day ready to be kind and patient and in control of life a little better.

My awareness of being overwhelmed really hit me about an hour later when I was at least ten minutes late to help in Marshall's class (exactly after realizing I had forgotten Marshall's lunch on the kitchen table).  As I drove I thought to myself, "I can help in my kids' school.  I can make sure my kids feel loved.  I can blog and catch up on my blog, so our life can be journaled.  I can show my YW they are important to me by being there and fulfilling my calling.  I can spend time with my husband.  I can cook meals from scratch.  I can have the kitchen, and family room, and bathrooms cleaned.  I can visit and help my neighbors that are in need.  I can wash and fold the laundry in an reasonable time frame.  I can be healthy.  I can exercise.  I can get back to my pre-baby weight.  I can improve my skills in the garden.  I can earn a little extra money by building my photography business.  I can help my clients feel beautiful and important.  I can impress them by completing their sessions much faster than I promised.  I can read and become more enlightened.  I can listen to the talks from General Conference another time to glean more from the words of God's servants.  I could do 1,000 other things that I do regularly on a daily basis.  But I cannot do it all right now.  I'm drowning in my "have to do's" and losing my mind from lack of "like to do's" and I need to slow down and prioritize."  It was helpful to acknowledge I don't have to do it all, but almost paralyzing to realize the daily routine of things I need to accomplish just to exist in peace in my home... the things the I do over and over and over again... were inching their way closer and closer to suffocating me emotionally.

And this is why I was crying in yoga.

It became so vibrantly clear that by washing those dishes every day, by keeping up with the laundry, and making beds, and scrubbing toilets, and giving haircuts, and all those other chores I do again and again, I was creating a feeling of stability for my children, my husband, and myself.  I was creating a sanctuary from the world within our home and I would be able to feel the peace inside myself that I felt was being swallowed up by these very tasks.  I resolved right then to find joy in these chores and allow the repetition to build stability.  Peace.  Joy.

I made this resolution on Friday and pretty much abandoned all of my duties in order to celebrate Marshall's birthday, shoot a wedding, and fulfill my church calling, but I figure the repetition of picking up the pieces and starting over is going to be good for me too.  So here's to doing a little better.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Fancy Parts of Easter 2013

Here we are seconds before church.  Macy was so so tired so she wouldn't move a muscle in her face.  Marshall is going through "the phase" that all kids get to where they think way too much about what their face looks like when they smile.  Tyler didn't want to wear this suit but started catching on to how cool it was.  
I'm gonna dig out the picture of Colby in this same suit so I can dedicate a post to the work of art all it's own.  This is the coolest kind of hand me down.

Macy and Daddy.

Now prepare yourselves for the many faces of Macy.  I saved my very favorite picture of her for last.

Our pretty little girl.

So grateful our Savior made it possible to return to him and our Father, in a perfect resurrected body and have the chance to be all together as an eternal family.

Macy Lately

Not sure what got into this little princess while I was taking her picture on Easter, but right now she is being as cute as can be.  I'll post some more cute pictures from that session soon.  She's currently chatting with her butterfly teething toy... going on and on... hamming it up with a forced giggle here and there.  She's totally distracting me from what I am trying to accomplish on the computer.  She's pretty much always distracting me from whatever it is I'm trying to do.   I let her though, because she'll only be little for a millisecond and I can't get enough!

She's a week shy of 5 months old now and wears mostly 9-12 month clothes.  She rolls over like a champ, onto her belly and back, but only to the right though.  It totally made me think of Zoolander the other day and I laughed about it for a while.  She is sweet and friendly... always has a smile ready for whoever will give her a little attention.  She likes to be outside and especially loves to watch Daddy mow the lawn.  She's been sleeping at least 8 hrs straight at night since she was 6 weeks old and will generally sleep from 9 pm until 8:15 am when I grab her out of bed to take Marshall to school.  She's gone along with me for a few runs lately and seems to mostly enjoy her time in the stroller as long as she can see what's going on- having the seat totally reclined back is a major no no.  I think it's safe to say Marshall is her favorite person in the world closely followed by Tyler, Daddy, and Mommy.  She doesn't mind wearing headbands and hats, and I hope she doesn't decide to pull them off any time soon.  She very rarely cries but has figured out how to get exactly what she wants by pulling the saddest face and belting out that cry for all it's worth.  That really only happens when you wipe her nose or walk away from her while she wants to play.  I have probably a hundred pictures of her sucking on her fingers... that's her favorite thing ever.  I'll have to blog a few of them sometime soon.  Usually it's the middle and ring finger of her right hand, but if she can get anyone else's fingers then she will grab them and pull them right to her mouth to bite and bite and bite.  Pretty sure she's teething... and has been for at least a month.

We love her sweetness and her chubby rolls.  
I can't get enough of her squishiness and love to just sit and pinch her and watch her smile from all the attention.