Friday, September 19, 2014

No Contest

For some inexplicable reason, a Best Baby of the Universe Contest does not exist. I mean, I guess that's fine since, 1. I don't want to be a pageant mom and 2. I don't want to make all those other babies feel bad.
But if such a contest existed, my baby would win it.

He never cries. He laughs and smiles all the time. I literally lie him in his cradle and he goes to sleep- sometimes within seconds. Sometimes before I've even pulled my arm out from under him.
Maybe you don't have babies, so you don't understand how amazing that is. But let me tell you: IT IS AMAZING.

I just.
I am obsessed with how great he is.
So here are some pictures of him being cute:
 He gets really easily excited. Here he is doing an Irish Jig because I looked at him, which was quite thrilling.

He weighs 17+ pounds. He is in 9-12 month clothes. He has dimples all over his fat little hands and feet.

He's really dapper. He was sad that I took away his bowler hat here.  But not very sad, because he's hardly ever very sad.

August and his fan club.

I mean. Just look at his face! His big, fat face. He's the best little fatty in the universe. No contest.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fire Station 10

Last week we joined some friends on a visit to the fire station. The fire fighters were so kind and friendly with all the kids, and let them climb all over the engine, try on hats, even spray the hose! (Spraying the hose was obviously the highlight!) 
With the boys current obsession with superheroes, it was fun to talk about some real heroes, and learn about what they do. It was especially cool to go on September 11th, and remember all that our fire fighters do all over the country to protect and help us. The boys were very impressed with the fire fighters and ask to go back to the fire station almost daily. 

 These three kiddos! It's so cute to see them together. They are the best of friends. Grey and Micah ask to be with Elanor every morning as soon as they wake up. I don't know what we'll do when we don't all live in the same house!

I don't know how it is everywhere, but for Salt Lake, I just called the Firestation's non-emergency number and asked when we could come visit with a group of kids. The person helping me was not super enthusiastic- but when we got to the actual station, the fire fighters were wonderful. They repeated many, many times that we were welcome to come back often and anytime we want. The Captain told us that they really want the kids in the community to recognize and trust them, and any chance they got to encourage that image was welcome.
We loved our visit to the station and will probably go back soon!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Photo a Day: Sept 6 - 13

What can I say about this week that I haven't said about every week? Because every week is the same, in a way. A jumble of good and bad - which ultimately is a big lovely mess. Somedays are hard and some are easy. Some are fast, some are slow. 
This week has been moving in strange lurches, some mornings or afternoons seem to drag on endlessly, and yet today is inexplicably Wednesday, when I'm quite sure that yesterday was Sunday. 
Le Sigh. Life. 

Sunday: Grey in the sunshine. I love his stocky little outline.

 Monday: Grey dug up a worm. He was ready to have him move right in with us. // Tuesday: Micah has requested that we only refer to him now as "Batman."

 Wednesday: Date night! A chilly motorcycle ride through the canyons with my love.

 Thursday: A trip to fire station. They even let the kids spray the hose! // Friday: August James, watching his brother roast marshmallows.

Saturday: The boys love practicing all the tricks they learn in gymnastics!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Conversations with Three-Year Olds

Every morning we ask Grey, "What did you dream about last night?" Some answers include:
Climbing walls and mountains with Daddy. It was DANGEROUS!
I got my hair cut at Tabby's and then I put it on August's head for this own new hair.
I was with the firemen on a truck with a ladder. It was a firetruck! And we went to a house that burned down and I was a fighting man and helped to climb the ladder and stop the fire. Then I jumped to the couch like this! And then I jumped all everywhere!

Grey likes to say, "Tell me about that, Mom." Usually it's about something he sees around him. He might say, "Firefighters carry axes. Tell me about that, Mom." Or today he asked, "We keep our food in the fridge. Tell me about that."
His favorite topic though starts like this, "Mom, tell me about owls eat mice."
Sometimes I'll spend several minutes explaining how owls can see when it's dark, so they catch animals in their talons as they scurry home for bed and when I finish he'll say, "I didn't hear you. Can you tell me about it again?"

Micah showed me a picture of George Washington and said "This is me when I am a big man. BATMAN."

Grey dug up an earthworm in the yard and said, "There you are worm! I've been looking every where for you."
Then he laid him down on his blanket and tucked him in. 

A long-haired student walked by  us while we were outside, and Grey yelled, "Hi! Hi!"
When the guy didn't respond, Grey said "Him is Tarzan. Tarzan can't talk either, so him is Tarzan, I guess."
(Then he said, "Mom, tell me about Tarzan can't talk.")

Katie: I want to go to Claire's! (The store)
Grey: You can't go to Claire's! Her is my best- well... No. Her's NOT my best friend. Elanor and Micah are my best friends.

Micah: Laughing makes me happy!

Micah: Are there hotdogs at Costco?
Me: Yes.
Micah: Grey and Micah want hotdogs too, silly girl!

Me: G for Giraffe.
Grey: No. G is for Grey.
Me: Well, G is the sound for giraffe, too.
Grey: No. Let's say, F is for Giraffe and G is for Grey.

Me: Grey, is that pee?
Grey: No. It's just water.
Me: Okay, are you sure?
Grey: Yeah! Just water from my penis.

Grey: I just want some strawberries, lots a berries, blueberries and red berries.

Micah: Are you even done cleaning yet?!
Me: Nope. You're too messy.
Micah: Hey. Never say that again.
Me: You ARE messy. It's not an insult.
Micah: It IS in-sult... lake city.
Me: What?
Micah: It's in Salt Lake City?

Grey: I want to be alone.
Micah: Me too!
Grey: I mean, I want to be alone without you.
Micah: I want to be alone WITH you. Because you're my best friend.
Grey: Oh, fine.

Micah: Dance, mom! Dance! You got married!

Micah: I want to have a big gun like you do, Mom.

Grey: Look out! Here comes a man named John. John in the city will beat my Mom!
Micah: NO! I will beat him first!
Grey: Let's beat that John!

Grey: I am hungry and that's why I am dying.
Micah: I am starving and dying too.

Grey: If I eat this all gone, can I have a little wrestle?

Grey: I feel frustrated with myself, but I don't need any help.

Micah: I want to play in a big park like a dumptruck.
Me: I don't know of any parks like that.
Micah: You do know of one, it's here in Salt Lake City!

Grey: Look! An umbrella for raining! You put it up and say, "Tick tock! Looks like raining!"

Grey: That girl is pretty, but you are the most pretty though.

Micah: I'm just making so many things in here and don't need help. I'm making a peanut butter and honey and don't need help.

Me: It's naptime.
Micah: I WANT TO SLEEP WITH THESE CLOTHES ON. **Batman and Robin pjs**
Me: They are pajamas, so that's fine.
**Grey starts giggling hysterically and fist pumping with excitement.**

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Batman and Robin

My children have had pretty limited exposure to Superheroes. They had a few things from the dollar section of Target (like water bottles and markers) that had superheroes on them. Grey and Micah would constantly ask, "Who is this?"
"Iron Man," I would say, without any further info. Nonetheless, they were soon playing games wherein they would wrestle, shoot from their hands, and pretend to fly- all while yelling, "I AM IRON MAN!" or "I'll get you Iron Man!"
The first superheroes they became attached to, you might say, were Batman and Robin.
They were given an old Look and Find Batman and Robin book that was my brother's when he was little.
It is a book without a plot. Just 12 or so pages of Batman and Robin in different rooms with a different bad guy to defeat (for example, to help Batman and Robin defeat Mr. Freeze, find all his Ice Machines so he can't freeze the winter carnival.)

It is dumb and boring (to me), but they requested it constantly. They started asking lots of questions about Batman and Robin, and slowly they learned about them without ever picking up a comic book or watching a show.
Then my mom found an episode of Scooby-Doo with Batman and Robin. They watched that, and their obsession gained some momentum. Like flies drawn to a light, or a compass' needle to the north pole.
I don't know how it happened, since I really didn't encourage it and none of their friends were into it... but my boys found superheroes.
And they love them. No. They don't love them. They are obsessed.

At the library recently, I had my arms full of cowboy books. We had been to a rodeo recently, and I planned on getting my boys into horses, cowboys, bandits, and native americas. I was totally psyched.
Then they saw a poster with the Justice League on it.
And they started FREAKING OUT. So we went to look at comic books, and came home with several comic books instead. They started telling me (regularly) that they were going to be Batman and Robin for Halloween.
But everywhere I searched, the costumes were
1. Expensive
2. Too "adult" and muscly. (WHY SO MUSCLY?)
3. Stupid
 I wanted costumes that were timeless, not tacky, warmish, and comfortable.
And then, I changed my search. And I found these awesome PAJAMAS.
Three days after getting them in the mail, and I practically had to force the boys to take them off and wash them. (I was only successful because they were muddy.)
And they have been begging to put them back on since they came out of the dryer.
I guess we're moved on from diggers to Superheroes.
I wonder what will come next....

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Breasts and Their Milk

Here is a picture Grey took of me nursing this week. My hair looks weird and this picture is blurry and underlit.
Why isn't my three year-old a more professional photographer? Sheesh. 
August is sick. He isn't hospital-sick (for which I am extremely grateful), but he is sick enough that I need to forcibly pin him down (with the help of 4+ other capable adults) and suction out his nose every few hours. (Why are babies so strong?)
I'm up much of the night listening to his pathetic little cough and making sure that he's still breathing, and have spent the last few days being napped and drooled on while my big kids destroy the house around me.
I don't mind, really. It's not like I'm the one who's really suffering in this.
BUT, I'm a little annoyed that people keep trying to tell me that breastfed babies don't get sick.
Because my four month old has been sick like this twice. And my big kids (who are no longer breastfed- but were for a long time) are sick pretty much once a week.
And while we're at it: they have allergies and asthma and so do I. (Also breastfed.)

People. Let's clarify something: breastmilk is great. It is nutritional. It is made for your specific baby. It has some kind of antibody-some-or-other to help your baby keep from getting sick. #breastisbest, etc.
But it's also milk. It's not medicine.
When people tell me to squirt breastmilk into my child's ear to solve an ear infection, I actually want to laugh out loud.
Science. Can I explain science to you? Those aren't ear drops and even if they were, an ear infection is on the other side of that eardrum. And even if your magical milk could penetrate the eardrum, the problem is an excess of fluid back there. Adding your milk is not going to solve this problem. Okay. Tiny Ear Infection Rant over.

But my baby is all breastfed. He has literally never had anything from a bottle, even more breast milk. I nurse him unashamedly in public, because when a baby is hungry- you feed him. And I love to talk to my kids and other adults about breastfeeding, because I like it and think people don't know a lot about it.
Yes. I'm feeding August this way because breast is best. It is healthy, natural, free of charge, conveniently located on my chest and already warmed to the right temperature.
Mostly, that's it.
When August was a newborn, I was texting with another mom about breastfeeding and how stressful and guilt-ridden it can be. She said something along the lines of, "I know Moms who breastfeed are heroes and whatever, but..."
And I actually laughed out loud when I read that text.
Come on, people.
My kids would also describe breastfeeding moms as heroes, but mostly because they think it's a super power to be able to shoot milk from your body.
They really wish I could shoot frozen milk, or milk from my hands instead of my breasts- but you gotta take what you get when it comes to super powers.
But in general, breastfeeding moms aren't heroes. They're moms who don't want to buy formula.

Sure, I know there are probably some moms out there who have tackled unconquerable odds to breastfeed and they're heroes and whatever. But we're not talking about them. We are talking about regular run-of-the-mill moms who are looking up cupcakes on Pinterest while their baby nurses.
Maybe it's blogs like this and others, maybe it's Facebook, maybe it's that darn Upworthy- but we seem to want every little thing we do to be EPIC.

Just calm down, everybody. Calm your milky tits down.
(Okay. I wanted to title this post "Calm Your Milky Tits Down" but decided it was inappropriate. But I really needed to work that charming expression into this post somewhere.)

So, breastfeeding usually looks like this to me:
My baby makes a noise that is unhappy-ish (rarely cries, because he's perfect.) I look at the clock and go, "Oh, it's been three hours since you ate. Are you hungry?" I pull up my shirt. He latches on and eats. He pulls off to watch his noisy brothers and I shout say calmly, "Go play in another room for a few minutes, you're too distracting."
My big kids leave, and I continue to nurse August while scrolling through Etsy on my phone. August falls asleep at the breast. My breast, which is extremely anxious to please and good at what it does, continues to squirt milk like a mini-firehose into August's open mouth. It runs out of his mouth and on to my clothes. I notice, but don't mind, because it's nice to sit here in the semi-silence and hold my baby and look at my phone.
Eventually, he stirs again (probably because my noisy kids have come back). He keeps eating. He finishes and sits up and burps. I do it again on the other breast.
Here are some words I would use to describe those 20 minutes:

(I would not use the word heroic here.)

Sometimes I think I would be a kick-A lactation consultant, because I'm not a crazy-person. I nursed two extremely difficult preemie babies and I did it at the same time, so I know that nursing can be a bitch. I know it can be something you want really, really badly. I know it can be hard, frustrating, exhausting, but possible.
But I also know that sometimes it's not possible.

If I were a lactation consultant, I would never say things to women like, "In 20 years of experience, I've never met a woman who couldn't breastfeed if she really tried."
Because in 3 years of experience, I've met multiple women who tried and cried and broke their hearts trying to breastfeed and failed.
I would definitely not say, "If it hurts when you breastfeed, you're doing something wrong."
Because, news flash, when someone sucks on your tender nipples for like 8 hours a day - even if it's a tiny wee babby with a perfect latch- sometimes those nipples are going to blister, bleed, crack, and feel like exploding.
And I would never ever tell a sobbing new mom (as I was told) that her babies would get asthma, allergies, and diabetes if she stopped nursing.

In fact, I'd probably say cool stuff like, "DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Your baby will not die if you give him formula - it's just going to be an expensive pain in the butt, but at least you can leave your baby with a sitter someday, unlike the rest of us poor saps. But if you want help and support, I got some of that for you, sister. Now calm your milky tits down."

Hey. Don't leave a comment on this post unless it's something awesome like, "You're hilarious!"
I don't really care for comments like, "Moms who are into breastfeeding are the worst!" because they're great, and I support breastfeeding and I especially support Moms.

Also, don't leave a comment like, "BREASTMILK WILL ACTUALLY SOLVE EAR INFECTIONS." because even if you leave me some facts and statistics, I'm not going to read them, and I definitely won't click on any links to anything. Unless it's a hilarious link. But not someone doing the ice bucket challenge, because stop. Just donate.

Also, if you want to read more of my posts about breastfeeding, which are all as awesome as this one, click {here.}

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Photo a Day: Aug 31- Sept 6

This week has been good and bad, hard and lovely, bright and tiring. 
My boys have been sick a bit, including August- which always ruins any schedule we might have. The house gets really messy and the meals are things like Mac and Cheese. We stay in our pjs most days (as evidenced by the pictures). And that's how we're feeling today. It's hard to remember if we were like this all week or just the last few days. I think most of the week was good, but I wasn't getting a lot of sleep- so it's hard to remember! That's why I need pictures. Otherwise the days slip by and I don't always even seem to notice them pass or know what day of the week it is. Especially weeks like this one. Weeks where the toilet overflows FOUR times, and I have to clean poop water off the floor of our perpetually stinky bathroom. Weeks where Grey falls out of bed in the middle of the night and wakes me into a state of exhaustion and anger, only to notice that it's only 9:04 pm. So how long have I been asleep in my bed, and why am I so tired? Weeks where my husband leaves for just two days, but seriously it's too hard for him to be gone so much- so we just eat lots of warm cookies and order food instead of cooking. 
But today it is Monday. I am wearing yoga pants, and a lot of spit-up and boogers. Grey and Micah are wrestling in their room (I can hear shouts of "Steamroller!" from here,) and August is here on my lap. His milky puke is soaking through my pants and even my underwear- but I'm not going to change, because that would be my third outfit today and I don't really have the energy to put on puke-free clothes if I'm just hanging out here today without witnesses, especially since I don't have any more puke-free stretchy pants, and I'm just not feeling skinny jeans today. (Also, he puked on my skinny jeans.)
But this week had lots of good bits too. I mentioned the homemade cookies, right? And golden sunshine, cool breezes, lots of long talks with friends, and visits to parks. The boys wore their cloaks a lot, and that's my favorite thing in the world- especially when they yell things like, "Jump Dumbledore! I mean... um, Wizard. Jump Wizard!" (Which wizard are they talking to? Oh. Gandalf. Because they're the best.)  I got to have a few soul-stretching, grace-giving discussions about faith, and beauty and happiness. And I was reminded over and again what a treasure of a husband I managed to snag. 
A dishes-doing, child-wrestling, baby-burping, back-rubbing, house-cleaning artist who is faithful and good and kind in all the best ways. Even if he does throw his socks on the floor- really, really close to the hamper. (Just another 6 inches. You couldn't make those 6 inches? Okay. I forgive you, because you made dinner last night, and then did three days worth of dishes.)
But that's life. Good and bad, up and down, but mostly just silly and boring and lovely. 
The lovely bits look like this:

Sunday: Grey and his Daddy. Travis has been taking the boys on individual "dates" and they love having some special time with just him. // Monday: Micah with his sword and cloak. This nerdy Mama couldn't be prouder.

 Tuesday: They're really, really into climbing trees. // Wednesday: They're also really into August.

Thursday: Three and Half.

 Friday: I just really, really like this little munchkin.

Saturday: Face painting at a friend's birthday party. Micah actually asked to be Spiderman, but the artist didn't understand him and did her own thing. I'm so glad that she did, because it's amazing. Grey asked to be painted with just pink and black, but every time the artist showed him the mirror and said, "Okay. You're done, how does it look?" Grey would raise his eyebrows, and slowly shake his head. "Not done. Keep painting."
So she kept painting. And he looked like a bizarre and amazing tropical bird.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Three and a Half

Once upon a time, I took pictures of Grey and Micah every month they grew older. They were babies, it was cold out, and I was an inexperienced photographer- so almost every month, they were lying in their pjs on my bed in the morning. The lighting wasn't very good. Their hair was crazy.
But I love those pictures.
This morning I realized that it was the boys' half birthday, and decided that I wanted some pictures. As I tried to think of a good way to trick them into a photoshoot- they were busy wrestling on my bed in their coordinating pajamas.
My usual update will have to come later. I'm actually pretty busy with a house full of wild boys (it feels that way, at least).

And, as it turns out: I wanted to share some photos of the boys when they were babies...

Six months old.

One year old.

 18 months. // Two years old.

 Two and a half (one year ago)

 Three years old.

 And three and a half.

Time flies when you're having fun...

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I went to the woods

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
Henry David Thoreau

I wrote this blog post about two months ago, when my family was still in Minnesota. It got lost in the files, as so many of my posts are.
Since writing this original post, we have made it a family goal to head to the mountains at least once a week. Sometimes we go on a hike, visit a lake, or even spend the night in a tent- but mostly we find a fire pit in the canyons and make ourselves dinner with friends and family.
We aren't doing anything too exciting, but I love it. I feel a much deeper love for Utah and it's mountains than I did 8 weeks ago. We also visited my family in Nevada (by Tahoe) and many of these pictures were taken by my dad in their mountains.  (Note: My Dad is an amazing photographer. Check out his photo blog.)  The pictures are in no order of time or subject...

A few years ago, I read someone's blog where they talked about how much they loved their childhood home in Utah. Long hikes over mountainsides covered in wild flowers, valleys filled like a cup to the brim with golden sunshine, streets lined with cherry blossoms in the spring and blooming rose bushes in the summer.
I remember thinking as I read, "But Utah is the worst. I hate it here. Doesn't everyone hate it here?"
That was the turning point for me, the time when I stopped hating Utah for the many ways it was different from my home. Obviously, it was quite the moment of revelation- since I still remember it.

I now love Utah, though I still find that I prefer the lush, flat, green landscape and wide blue skies of Minnesota to the scraggy mountains, dry heat, and crowded valleys of Salt Lake and Provo.
But I suspect that is only because Utah was not the home of my childhood.

How blessed we are to live in such a beautiful world! How amazing that there is not one perfect, preferable place that everyone in the world wants to move to- but that the beauty of the earth is as varied as the people of the earth. The places we've traveled, lived, and loved can be such an intimate part of our makeup and being- and none more so than our first remembered home.
Going to my beautiful Minnesota always makes me especially sentimental. Obviously.

I find myself feeling the mixed desires of settling down on a permanent homestead with my children- letting them run wild and free through a tangled back yard, learning with them how to coax fruits and flowers from the ground, and soaking in the richness of home- and the desire to load up a trailer and hit the road, exploring the different places, people and landscapes as far as we can drive. Marveling in the magnificence of mountains, desserts, lakes, woods, oceans, and prairies.

Unfortunately, neither of those lovely sentiments can be anything more than a daydream yet. Though, always, Travis and I are planning for the days when they'll be a reality.
And someday, mark my words, they will be a reality.

But until then, I am happy in my little house in the big mountains. I think with pleasure of the way these golden, light-filled valleys full of buzzing bees and blooming flowers will work their way into the hearts and souls of my children as the home of their youth.
It was wonderful, heartening, and fun to go visit Minnesota- but
It's really nice to be home again.

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