Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fall Break

When you are married to a hunter, and you live in Utah, "fall break" doesn't signal a call for a family vacation. It's the weekend that "the hunt" opens. Wives everywhere join their voices of protest, "BOOOO! We want to go to Disneyland!" Ignoring their spouses cries, the men rejoice! The hunt has arrived!

What I have come to appreciate is that Andrew gets to spend this weekend with his Dad and with Henry in a place they love so much. Henry looks forward to it almost as much as Andrew does. Forrest longs for the day when he can join them. Before anyone can think the thought, I want to add that our girls are always invited to go. In fact, Andrew really wanted our entire family there at the cabin. He is a family man through and through, make no mistake. 

The girls and I politely declined the invitation. 

We laughed out loud when Henry came down the stairs that morning wearing his red suspenders.
He had decided to wear them on his own.
We laughed because Andrew likewise has red suspenders that have accompanied him on many outdoor adventures. 

Here are the few photos he sent me while they were gone.

They had the best time.
And did in fact shoot a deer. 
Andrew only hunts when he has plans to eat the meat.
And that's exactly what happened. 

As for us, we went to City Creek to check out the American Girl store.
Nana Marie came with us too!

We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory
and also stopped by the Disney store;
something Forrest appreciated a lot more than the American Girl store.
I was pretty obsessed with Lottie's toothless grin.

That weekend I also took the littles to the Dinosaur Park.
Eliza had a birthday party to attend so she missed out. 
And to be honest, she didn't care one bit!

Saturday we had soccer games. 
Forrest scored TWO goals!

I am glad our boys had a great time hunting but man, I was so happy
when we were back together again.

Boy or Girl?

The day we found out we were expecting a girl was busier than we had anticipated! Andrew had planned to come with me to my appointment. However, he was dealing with health issues of his own this past fall and the morning of my ultrasound, he found himself stuck on the phone, trying to work out logistics with our insurance company. And while I was disappointed that he wasn't coming, I understood that he needed to figure out the best way to move forward with his own treatment. Before I left, I passed him a note to confirm that he would be able to pick up Forrest from preschool. He gave me the thumbs up, so off I went. I was so excited! 

In the weeks leading up to my ultrasound, I was often asked what gender I wanted or thought we would have. "We would be excited about either!" was a common, and true, response. Sometimes, I would say, "Since Forrest is our youngest, it would be very fun if we had another boy." Henry and Forrest are as thick of thieves. In my fully biased opinion; a sweeter, most devoted, pair of brothers have never existed. Their age difference is five years. Forrest and our baby will likewise be five years apart; so the idea that we could replicate that brotherly love appealed to me. HOW-to-the-EVER... deep down, I wanted a girl. I don't think I verbalized this to anyone, but I confess that a return to all things pink, dresses, hair bows, (etc) was calling me.

As for the kids, both Eliza and Lottie desperately wanted a sister. Eliza was open about her feelings but would often add, "...but I just know it's going to be a boy." Lottie and Forrest would get heated as they went back and forth over it being a girl or a boy. Forrest really wanted a baby brother; but even more than that, in my opinion, he didn't want Lottie to get her wish.

When the moment came and my doctor told me that, "It's a girl!" I screamed aloud! "REALLY?" I genuinely screamed, whooped, and hollered as I lay their on the exam table. And then I apologized. I had lost my composure and would probably have experienced proper embarrassment at some point, but I didn't because I was that happy. Knowing Andrew was picking up Forrest, I went to Zurchers to buy a bundle of pink balloons so that we could announce the news to our kids later that day. 

My cruel plan was to make Andrew wait and find out with the kids, so I called our neighbor Trish and asked if I could hide the balloons at her house.  She happily agreed. I was so cheered by her sweet reaction. Andrew, however, outwitted me. He logged into my account and was able to pull up the photos that had just been sent to my email. His reaction was more understated than my own, but he was definitely happy. 

That afternoon we ended up at Ogden Regional because we had to pick up Andrew's heart monitor that he would be wearing for the next four weeks. A tender mercy came when they said they could do his echocardiogram that same day; rather than making us wait a couple more weeks for our scheduled appointment. Like I said earlier, Andrew had been having health issues of his own. It was a stressful time. As of now, we have ruled out a lot of scary issues, but question marks remain as to what was causing his alarming symptoms. He still has some symptoms at present, less frequent and intense, but after meeting with a cardiologist, my fear that something terrible will suddenly happen to him has diminished greatly. I don't mean to be so vague, but this is something he wishes I keep more private. 

Anyway, my dear friend Chelsey picked up my three older kids from school. Forrest was with us at the hospital while Andrew had his echo; which reminds me of another detail from that day.

While I was at Zurchers waiting for them to inflate my pink balloons, I get a phone call from Forrest's preschool. "Hi! This is Miss Julie. Is anyone planning to pick up Forrest today?" My heart dropped. Poor Forrest had been forgotten. Andrew was two minutes away, working from home. I was probably 15 minutes away. I tell Miss Julie that one of us will be there soon. I try to call Andrew but he doesn't pick up. Knowing I am going to have to leave without my balloons, I head to the parking lot. Thankfully, Andrew calls me, apologizes for forgetting Forrest and assures me he is on his way to get him. I was happy that I was able to stay and wait for my balloon order.

Miss Julie told Andrew that Forrest excused my tardiness by saying, "It's okay. My Mom is pregnant and had to take a nap before she could come get me." Oh, that made me laugh out loud. 

Finally, we were done at the hospital. We were able to pick up our kids, grab the balloons and gather the kids in the backyard for the announcement. I will let the pictures do the rest of the telling...

The girls were triumphant.
Forrest was devastated. 
Henry was primarily concerned about Forrest's reaction. 

Yes. Forrest is obviously upset. 
He had been hoping for a boy.
But, I think a big part of his reaction 
was losing out to Lottie...
who clearly got her way.

Later that night, as he was cuddling my belly, Forrest said, "I will still love it, Mom." His excitement over becoming a big brother had fully returned by bedtime. I can't remember having an older sibling this excited about a new sibling. He talks to his baby sister, is super affectionate with my belly and scolds us if we forget to pray for her. Eliza and I were heading out the other night to run an errand. He hugged me goodbye and then kissed my belly, per the norm. Next, he turned to Eliza, gave her a hug and then kissed her belly! It was hilarious. 

I am currently 32 weeks pregnant. It is February. Our sweet baby girl will be here soon. It's an exciting time as well as stressful as we find ourselves battling illness after illness. We have, so far, dodged the actual flu and pray that we continue to be spared. Hopefully, when the time comes, we can bring a healthy baby girl home to healthy siblings and parents. We are all so very excited. 

Last night, Eliza came home around 10:00 after going to a Chinese restaurant with her friend Molly and her family. As she was filling me in on her night, I noticed that baby girl had the hiccups. Eliza placed her hand on my belly. Awe and amazement filled her eyes as she felt each rhythmic movement. It was so special. This pregnancy has rocked my world as I have struggled physically. It's clear to me that it will be my last. But, the silver lining, the part that I hope I remember most, is the joy and wonderment that my kid's have expressed as they have shared in the miracle that is growing a baby. I often feel guilt over the age gap between baby girl and her siblings, but seeing how much my older children appreciate and anticipate her arrival alleviates those feelings. Thank you, God. Pregnancy is a profound and humbling miracle; every single time.

(photo taken January 2, 2018)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sunshine Lottie turns Seven!

Dear Lottie,

This birthday letter is long overdue. I apologize. You are now seven years old and three months (approximately)! Looking back at your seventh birthday, I think its fair to say that you had a special day. As we made plans, it seemed to me that the most important thing for you was that you spent it with friends. We had chatted about going somewhere like Kangaroo Zoo, but the idea of limiting how many friends you could invite, bothered you. So taking a page from one of Eliza's birthday parties, we decided to have an outside movie night at home. This plan would also save money and allow me to spoil you with a few gifts.

(Did I mention it was a pajama party?!)

I have to acknowledge Eliza as she  was the MVP that day. If my memory is correct, she was the one who made your birthday breakfast of pancakes. Also, she was the one who decorated the bag yard in such a fun way. Before I am overwhelmed with guilt, I will say that for Eliza, decorating is a labor of love and that she offered each of these favors. That evening your friends arrived. We had pizza, opened gifts, made s'mores and watched, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" I should mention that some friends opted to jump on the tramp and run around the yard rather than sit still for the movie. That was fine by you and me. I think everyone had a great time; or at least I hope so!

Oh geez. This photo just reminded me.
Eliza ALSO made the birthday cake! 
She did a beautiful job!

Birthday girl Lottie, all ready for school!

For lunch, Forrest and I brought you a happy meal from McDonalds

Polka Dottie Lottie Lou,

I LOVE YOU! Where do I begin? How about I mention your beautiful smile?!  It is the source of so much joy and light in our home; and so is your laugh. It's the cutest blend of rasp mixed with the most endearing giggle. It's definitely one of my favorite sounds in the world. With a new sister on the way, you are officially the "middle child." From my point of view, I think you were perfectly placed in this spot by our Heavenly Father. You have a sweet friendship with your older sister with whom you share a room. When Eliza is in the mood to doll you up, have you star in one of her videos or spend time with you in general, you are always happy to go along with her ideas. 

You play equally well with your brothers. I often find you and Henry outside playing soccer. Along with Forrest, you guys spend most of your time together outside. Forrest can be demanding at times. I am impressed with how you demonstrate patience with him. You are naturally a peace maker but don't hesitate to voice your opinion if something unfair has transpired. I like both of these qualities. You have strength and a quiet confidence that brings peace to my heart. I hope you cultivate these qualities as you grow into a young woman. 

You are a great friend. Spending time with friends is very important to you. Eliza and Henry are usually happy to be with friends; but it's often at my suggestion. You, on the other hand, initiate the plans. When I pick you up from school, you will often begin our conversation with a playdate request and you don't stop asking until something is solidified. You are persistent. :) 

Last Friday you brought home a perfect report card; identical to the one you brought home first quarter. I think it's fair to say that you are my most organized child. You appreciate tidiness and order and I love that about you; especially when it's your week to put away the dishes. You are doing well in school and are becoming a strong reader. Our family has been trying hard to read the Book of Mormon together. I love listening to you read through your verses. You often ask, "Can we keep reading?" when we finish a chapter together. Soccer and dance are your two favorite activities. You take tumbling, tap and ballet and are the youngest in your class. Your teacher placed you there because of how well you are doing. Soccer will return in the Spring. I don't look forward to you asking to be placed on a competitive soccer team; but I anticipate that you will!

Your Dad loves you a lot. I hope you know that. You are quick witted and don't hesitate in some of your responses when we are bantering. It makes us laugh. You are clever, sassy and sweet. I am thrilled that I get to be your Mom. I can't wait to introduce you to your new sister. You were darling when Forrest arrived, but I think its going to be such a new and special thing now that you are older. 

I love and adore you.

Thank you for being my Sunshine! (you leave darling love notes all over the house for members of our family; please never stop doing that)


September Daze

September was a magical month. 

Just kidding. I was nauseous and miserable.
However, looking back at these photos I feel grateful that we 
made it through the month with some happy memories. 

I can't remember the occasion. 
Ah. Yes.
Actually I do. 

My little unicorn and I stole away one afternoon to go shopping for "unmentionables." 
We came across this onesie and she was kind enough to try it on and let m take pictures. 
I love when I get one on one time with my kids; added bonus if it involves unicorns.

Last Spring, I agreed to being this year's PTA treasurer. 
Had I known that my pregnancy was right around the corner;
I would have politely decided the position.
It's been a big job. 
I am glad I am contributing and have really come to appreciate
all the parents who donate time and resources to making our school such a great place. 
But it's been a big job. 

My goal right now is to be positive as I finish out the school year.
But when I look back at this picture from our family fun fair;
my primary memory is how crummy I felt that night as I handled the money.
My Mom was an angel and came to supervise my kids while I worked
 because Andrew was away on business.
The kids, I know, had a blast that night. 

Simpler scenes like backyard soccer make me so happy.

Our backyard is my happy place.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not exploring new places with my kids. 
But then I watch them play with each other, for hours, outside and find myself asking,
"What more could they need?"

A tender mercy from September included an invitation from our neighbor Jean.
Jean has horses. Andrew loves horses.
And lucky for the two of them; Andrew and Jean have become very fond of each other.
Whenever possible, Andrew will go help her with her horse related chores.
He gets to play cowboy and Jean gets to enjoy his friendship and work ethic.

As a "thank you" to him, she invited us over for dinner and to carve pumpkins. 
The weather was dreamy that night.
In addition to her daughter Janice and son in law Gary, 
our friends the Burleighs were also there.
We had a great time.
They were so kind as they encouraged me to sit and relax 
while all the other grown ups helped my kids carve their pumpkins.
It's the kind of charitable spirit that can make a grown woman cry.

Again, feeling less than the motivated to go that extra mile for my kids,
I counted this experience as a 
wonderful blessing provided to my kids by our kind neighbors and friends.

September also brought with it the return of "soccer Saturday!"

Forrest was thrilled to finally join our soccer crew.

However, 30 seconds into his first game, he returned to my chair and declared,
"That's too hard." 
For the next few weeks, he was reluctant to play.
By the end of the season, however, something shifted.
He embraced the game and began scoring some impressive little goals!

I was very proud of him for changing his attitude.

Lottie is still a soccer scoring maniac. 
She LOVES it.

Henry rocked it too! 
His coach had awesome things to say about him and his work ethic. 

I went with Forrest to Bell farm on a field trip.
It was a significant day for me because we walked there 
and I hadn't walked that far in weeks due to being sick.
Aside from the farm smells, we had the best time together. 

We did our best to visit Lagoon before our season passes expired. 
Frightmares is pretty impressive.

This special girl and I enjoyed women's conference together.
We went to dinner at Corner Bakery Cafe first. 
It won't be long until Miss Lottie joins us!

Daughters are pretty incredible.

And last but not least, 
Lottie's smile has evolved quite a bit.

When I was trying to capture a picture of her true smile,
she said, "Mom, it's easier for me to find my sassy face than it is to find my princess face."

Oh, I love her!