hello 2014

Well. 2013 was kind of a doozy. There was a morning in June, right in the middle, that just about exemplifies it.

Matt had been traveling almost non-stop (it wasn’t really, but felt like it) and I was worn out, but looking forward to our fun, fun, fun five-week trip home for summer. I got up one morning, ready to rouse the kids and start the day, gave my email a quick look and found a message from Matt. We were moving back to the US. We had known this was a possibility, and had been in limbo for weeks, knowing the deciders were at 50/50 on the issue. Now it was real and I’d only have a week to prepare the kids and say goodbye.

Kids started getting up, and within a five-minute period, two more things happened and I can’t for the life of me remember which came first. The ground started to shake, enough to wake the remaining sleepers in the house. And a mouse ran across my kitchen floor. I am a pretty calm person, but hello adrenaline! My heart was racing and I was more than a little awake.

With my nervous system on overdrive, I got the kids out the door (we wouldn’t tell them about the move until that evening) and started to think through everything that would need to happen that day, that week, that month, and the rest of the year.

And here I am, having weathered all of that. Stressful, yes. But we are so blessed to have everything we need and more. I have been “in the thick of thin things” for months — paint colors, rugs, furniture shopping. (Thanks Mom, for that insightful phrase — I’ve checked but can’t attribute it.) I am well aware that my stress can mostly be attributed to “first-world problems.”  And I still haven’t figured out what my everyday life is supposed to look like back “home” in Utah. But it’s a new year, all is well, and we are ready to take it on.

bits and pieces

2013-02-10 21.23.34 Just thought you should know that Jon can do this. (But not put clothes in the hamper, apparently.)2013-03-03 13.24.38Will you look at the face of that sweet child? She’s about eleven, and a special soul. Love participating in a baptism.
2013-04-09 20.26.01 Sam joined the choir this semester, and is hands-down the most enthusiastic member. He loves it. He has also grown several inches the past six months, which is fun to watch. (And the curves in his spine are stable, thank goodness.)2013-04-14 16.35.21 Making meatloaf on a Sunday afternoon.DSC_0032Wacky Tacky Day at school. To tell the truth, he was pretty mortified by the leg warmers (Mary’s) but I convinced him that without them, he was only tacky. Which isn’t wacky, and isn’t fun. Oh, the joys of middle school.

Speaking of leg warmers, my sister Anne has a fun new business, Penny & Tillie. Cute leg warmers are surprisingly hard to find online and hers are super affordable and fun!

father-daughter dance

DSC_0006 DSC_0010Still trying to figure out how to get the jumping shot in focus — easy tip anyone?
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Here is lovely Mary, all ready for her second annual date with Dad. The dress was a very nice hand-me-down from her cousin Lily, and she would have posed for me all day long. Then she went to the dance and partied hard with her handsome dad and friends. A favorite event, for sure.

end of summer days — February 2013

Our February is really August, and just after this, we were back to school. Fun to remember relaxed, fun summer days.DSC_0001Easy chocolate sauce for dipping fresh summer berries.
DSC_0002 DSC_0004 DSC_0005 DSC_0006Night swimming, deserves a quiet night….DSC_0008 DSC_0010 DSC_0011 DSC_0014Fun adventure day with our friends the Hamiltons and new friends, the Whitts.

Here’s what’s not pictured… By the end of summer this year I was pretty tired of togetherness. I did not endure to the end well. I want to remember and be better at this, and I think we might need to consciously plan the last couple of weeks of summer and fill them with SOMETHING because it was a little rough this year. Oh, but then school started again and with it, a routine, and a couple of hours when I can hear myself think. Love the changing seasons.

Thomas is 4

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4 in January. Baby Thomas really isn’t my baby any longer. Sigh.

Matt and I keep asking each other, were all of our four-year-olds like this?

T has always been the sweetest little boy, and is universally loved. He is dangerously delightful and frequently has sugary treats in his hand he has charmed someone into giving him. (I’m trying to pack the kids in the car after a long day at a cub scout campout, and some kind person is putting marshmallows on his stick. That kind of thing.)

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Sharing a drink with his buddy, Jake.

But increasingly, his spunk is breaking through the sweetness. He is a big boy, but is not above throwing a big tantrum to get what he wants. He is an adorable fighter of imaginary bad guys, but sometimes forgets that other kids hurt for real when he whacks them with a plastic sword. Ask him to smile, and you may get a dimpled grin, or you might get a teeth-baring growl!

Also, he keeps finding and stealing my candy. Without even asking. The nerve.

Thanks to my friend Julie for reminding me to "get in the picture!"

Thanks to my friend Julie for reminding me to “get in the picture!”

Oh, but as all four-year-olds do, he amazes me every day with his smarts and curiosity. “Mom, what if someone steals our house?”

Well, our house can’t move, so someone can’t really take it…

“No, I mean what if someone gets in while we’re gone and just stays there?”

Or,

“Mom, if the light is red, why are those other cars going?” (He was asking about the cross-traffic, though we have lots of red-light runners here in South America!)

Or,

(at Mary’s birthday party)”How did these people know we were having a party?”

Well, we invited them.

“But how did they know how to find our house?”

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Two parties in one week = you only have to decorate once!

Perhaps my favorite thing about Thomas right now is his admiration and love for his siblings. He was sick yesterday, so no preschool, and at about 9 AM, he asked, “Is it time to go get the kids yet?” Another day, he wanted to make a sign for his bedroom door. It’s a bit of a tacky trend at our house at the moment, and the other kids have signs on their doors that say things like, “No boys allowed,” and, “You Shall Not Pass.” Thomas dictated exactly what he wanted his sign to say.

“Sam, Ben, Jon and Mary, You can come in whenever you want.”DSC_0032

the girl is 7!

IMG_4899 IMG_4904 DSC_0018Mary turned seven in January — can you tell that life is never dull with this girl around? We had a big, big party in our backyard for her birthday. Lots of kids, food, water games, swimming…. it was both fun and exhausting. I should have handed someone else my camera as usual.

Mary, as it turns out, has tons of personality. She can be a little demanding, but really, wouldn’t any girl in a family full of stinky boys think, “Well, this is really all about me”? In any event, she certainly holds her own. She isn’t me. I was always a pleaser and wanted everyone to think I was perfect. She is ebullient and social and occasionally out of control. I have had probably five different moms tell me, “Oh, my daughter just loves Mary — she is her favorite friend!” Also a couple of boys in her class want to marry Mary.

At seven, her reading has taken off and we are exploring chapter books. She loves the humor of “Junie B.” but I wonder if the sass is what she needs! I’m trying to steer her towards gentler characters. She loves to create things and has a terrible time keeping her room clean as a result. Her swimming really clicked this summer, and I love watching her do things that make her feel brave and strong.

She went to the father-daughter dance with Matt last Friday (pictures coming) and I got a glimpse of the silly fun things we have to look forward to. Helping her pick a dress (one we already had) and decide what to do with her hair, and then taking pictures of a child who would have posed for hours, I realized how lucky I am to have a girl to get ready for the prom one day (not thinking about weddings.. that will just make me tear up).

2013-02-01 19.32.24Love you, dear Mary. Can’t believe the next one is big 8!

should I take up photography?

We finally bought a DSLR (a lower-end one) a few months ago, and it takes nice pictures in auto mode. We especially like being able to catch things quickly because of the shutter speed. And it has a reasonably good zoom lens, which has helped so much at things like school concerts. We are glad we bought it.

But, I haven’t spent any time trying to learn about what it can really do. And though I’m trying (so hard!) not to compare myself to others, I notice much better pictures in other people’s homes, and on their blogs. I know I don’t have to be on every bandwagon that comes through town — so far I’ve avoided scrapbooking, Twilight, distance running, vinyl letters, and cross fit! — but I do sometimes have photography envy.

Here’s my problem. I’m not all that interested in photography. I don’t really want to invest the time, money, and energy to be good at it. I don’t feel one ounce of passion about it. I just want my pictures to be a little zingier or something. I don’t even know enough about it to describe what I want, but you know what I mean.

It’s a little bit like housecleaning. As much as I want to be all zen and meditative and spiritual about home-making, I am just as happy if I come home and someone else has cleaned my house top to bottom (yes I realize how lucky I am) as I would be if I had done it myself. I don’t really want to clean or enjoy cleaning, I just want a clean house.

What to do, what to do? Will I catch the vision of photography if I take a little class or read a book about it or something? Will I grow to love it more than my laundry? Is it worth the time, even if it feels like a chore, just so my pictures will look more, I don’t know, something? Should I make myself do it, just like I (sometimes) make myself exercise — because it will be good for me? Or do I just stay the course, and be happy with my pretty-good pictures?

PS Does anyone else sometimes not want to do something just because it seems like everyone else is doing it? Why am I so contrarian?

PPS We all have to do some things we don’t really enjoy, which is good for us, and I believe in working hard and not thinking everything has to be fun all of the time. (Raise your hand if you’re trying to convince your kids of this.) But I’m not sure this falls into that category — really just a hobby, right? Do you have hobbies that you don’t really enjoy?