Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kirtland Strawberry Festival...Round 2

I served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ohio some (cough) years ago. I had never been to the state before, or anywhere near it for that matter. 

Oddly enough, I now live in Ohio.
And so does one of my companions! 

Annette and I were companions in the small town of Kirtland during the summer, where we gave tours of the church history sites there to visitors. Every summer Kirtland holds a Strawberry Festival (basically just a small town carnival on the grounds of the high school that includes a booth selling strawberry shortcakes). The summer we were there, we were sent to volunteer at the festival for a day and were put to work serving strawberry shortcakes to customers. Since we are both here, for the time being anyway, we decided we'd best revisit our old stomping grounds together. Once we realized that the Strawberry Festival was coming up it was a done deal. So we packed up our little families and each drove a few hours to meet up there for the day.

We met up in Hiram, Ohio first to do a tour of the John Johnson Farm. Annette served here, but I had only been there once before, so we were both excited to go there.

Just before we started a tour, a church member, Melissa Goshe, who I had become friends with while serving in Kirtland showed up. She had been in Hiram for work and realized she hadn't done the tour there in ages, so she stopped in and ended up getting there just at the right time. Definitely not an accident! It was really fun to see her and have her join us on our tour.

Next we drove to Kirtland. We got lost on the way and Grady got motion sick and threw up in the car...but we made it there eventually!

Grady had NO interest in participating in the family picture. He screamed and twisted and ran away, so we gave up. We did get a nice shot of just me and Matthew, but I thought this one was worth remembering.

Me and Annette

Annette's sweet family

We found out at both places that going on a tour with toddlers is not exactly the easiest thing. All I could think to myself was, "Oh my gosh...we are so those people now! The ones on the tour with the screaming kids." We eventually figured out a tactic that worked: switch kids. When they were being held by someone who was not their parent, they would freeze up, be quiet and behave. (Poor Annette and Richard got the raw end of the deal because Grady is way heavier...)

After our short tour we headed up the road to the festival, where we got dinner and Grady tried his first carnival ride. We thought he would love driving in that little jeep.

Aaaaand. Nope. He cried about half of the time. He was so concerned about the jeep right behind them, which would slam into theirs occasionally. He turned around and stared at it most of the time and every time it would hit them he burst into tears.

And of course we had to get our strawberry shortcakes! It's hard to believe it's been 8 years since that summer. Makes me feel OLD. 
Still, glad for the fun memories, both then and now!

P.s. They still have sister missionaries serving the strawberry shortcakes. :) 

Summer So Far

Here's some of what we've been up to this summer so far, in pictures.

Grady's stylin' BFF stayed with us for a weekend.

Cute smiles like this to remind Mommy and Daddy of why we keep this little stinker around. ;)

Grady's "water table." has been a life-saver for playing outside in our non-backyard area on hot days. And he loooves it.
(And how cute are those little feet in flip-flops?)

Breakfast on the Farm in Plain City.

Grady got to meet lots of animals.

Most of which looked like this: tightest possible Daddy hugs for protection. (He likes animals from a distance, it seems)

He was not afraid of the tractors, though, and had to touch each one.

We went back to the splash pad for the first time since last summer. We were excited to see how Grady would like it, considering he couldn't walk yet the last time he was there. We were certain he would run through it like a mad man and have the time of his life.

Nope. After about 5 minutes he cried. After much coaxing he was persuaded to enjoy it from the comfort and safety of Daddy's lap. (Do we see a theme going on here?) Luckily I took him back there this week and he was much more brave.

Shirts getting stuck on that watermelon head.

Lots of rainy days.
I read something online about toddlers loving "sensory bins," or tubs filled with different textured or themed objects to sort. I tried it with some dry beans (or "beanies" as Grady calls them) and mini pom-poms. I thought maybe if I spread out a blanket and explained that the beans only stay on the blanket it would help create some sense of a boundary. 
 I'm an idiot for thinking that would work.
After about five minutes beans were being flung everywhere (I did make him pick them all up, at least). This kid is just not into fine motor activities--he has no patience for it. He would much rather jump and run and throw with his whole body.
Or, should I say, he's a boy.

So...instead, when it's sunny, baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. 
Or base-a-ball, as pronounced by Grady. 

He and Daddy keep up with the KC Royals every day by watching the game highlights on ESPN. Grady loves to cheer and shout, "Go Royals!"

And dirt. Any dirt he can get his hands on. I take him to the playground and he just plays in the dirt. Ha.

 Matching Daddy.

 Being sooo messy with food.

This one with the yogurt reminded Matthew of Polynesian war paint.

And then there's me. Just, you know, growing a baby. And getting ginormous.

17 weeks

24 weeks

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What He Wants Us to Be

This morning did not start out well. 
Little Mr. Sunshine woke up very much on the cranky side, which then quickly lead to his naughty side. 
This was probably our fault because we kept him up an hour late last night to watch soccer at our friends' house. 


Cranky. Whiney. Screaming. Naughty. 
By 8 a.m. I'd already had it.

Music can often calm both Grady and me down, so I started singing some primary songs at this point. I sang through a few songs, he continued to try my patience, and I felt more and more like I was going to lose it. 

Then I started into a new song the kids have been learning in primary this year (at least it's new to me). I think it is a beautiful song and fell in love with it the first time I heard it. I started singing it to Grady at home and now he and I love to sing it together. (And by together I mean that I stop at certain words and he fills them in for me. He gets very upset if I forget to do this and try to sing through the whole song by myself.) 

As I stood there emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up breakfast and singing, Grady screaming in the high chair all the while, I reached the chorus of the song and something happened.

God gave us families
To help us become what He wants us to be
This is how He shares His love
For the family is of God

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks and tears filled my eyes.
In this moment the Lord taught me a precious lesson, which I hope I will never forget.

Since I usually hear this song being sung by children, I've always taken it to mean that parents help their children become who God wants them to be. But today, as I sang these words, the Spirit testified to me that God has given me my own family and the opportunity to be a mother in order to help me become who He sees that I can be. Suddenly it became clear that every tantrum, every forgiving smile, every changing of vomit-covered sheets in the middle of the night, every trusting hug--is all part of a well crafted "school" made just for me. Not only that, but these teaching moments have been sent to me out of an expression of God's love for me. He knows that I can only be as happy as He is or learn to be as strong and perfect as He is through having these experiences. This realization filled me with gratitude and humbled me in about two seconds flat. 

I won't say that the morning got magically better after this because, in fact, it got worse. And I will admit that I didn't handle it with much grace.

But something in the way that I think about my life has shifted.
I want to hold onto this perspective.
I want to be a little better.
To make my Heavenly Father proud of who I am becoming.

**To hear the song click here
**For the lyrics click here      

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thoughts on Baby #2

If you are reading this, then you already know the news: we are having a baby girl, due October 14th!

Before getting pregnant this time I had my mind set on a boy because we already have a boy and they could play together, and we already have the clothes so it would be cheaper (since we are still in school making oodles of debt instead of oodles of money). :) But then I started to have feelings that this baby was a girl. I started noticing all the other little baby girls at the park, at church, at the store...and I got really excited. Eventually I felt so strongly that baby was going to be a girl that Matthew and I have been referring to her as a "she" for pretty much the entire pregnancy. At one point Matthew told me, "You've got me so convinced that this baby is a girl. If this baby ends up being a boy, I blame you!" I kindly explained that if the baby was a boy it would actually be his fault, not mine. Thankfully, my feelings ended up being true! 

 When I was pregnant with Grady, I felt very aware of the fact that I was pregnant the whole time. Maybe because I had never been through it before and it was all so new and exciting? Not sure. The strange thing about this pregnancy is that I have been in complete denial about it, even though the pregnancy was planned.  It hasn't started to feel real to me at all until about this week (22 weeks), and even now I am still kind of not entirely there. I think a big part of why I am feeling this way is because I had a miscarriage in the fall at about 12 weeks. I went through 6 weeks of yucky nausea and fatigue, gained ten pounds, and baby. The whole experience was more traumatic than I would have expected it to be, although at the same time I was blessed to bounce back from it emotionally much more quickly than I thought I would, thanks to the Lord's help and some sound advice from a good friend. 

I feel I have had a lot of faith coming into this pregnancy. Still, there have been lingering fears and worries, as well as this weird underlying realization that pregnancy doesn't always produce a baby. I think a little piece of me still sees being pregnant as a list of crazy symptoms that I get to experience until it suddenly just stops. As a result, I have been much more cautious this time around. I waited much longer to tell everyone that I was pregnant, for fear that it would come back to bite me. At the ultrasound I was much more worried about seeing a healthy baby than I was about finding out the gender this time. 

Thankfully, everything has turned out well and I am feeling much more at peace. I am beginning to really show and starting to feel some kicks and squirms going on in there. Things are starting to become more real and exciting in my mind, and I am reaching a place where I am allowing myself to realize that I AM HAVING A BABY(!). It feels good to let that in. I bought the first few little baby girl clothes at a thrift store sale this week and it just makes me happy to think about getting her all dolled up in them (with matching headbands and bows, of course!).

BIG blessing: this pregnancy has been soooo much better than the other two. I think there are several reasons why. 

First, my body has been through this before, so I have known physically and emotionally what to expect. I think that makes a big difference.

Secondly, I was hardly nauseous at all! In fact, I would probably just say I was "queasy" for a few weeks. 

Third, for the first time in my entire life (since toddlerhood) I have taken a nap every day. I have never been able to nap. I am a horrible sleeper even when not pregnant and take forever to fall asleep. If I do get a nap, it usually messes with my nighttime sleep. But for the first three or four months of this pregnancy, when I was downright exhausted and trying to keep up with a toddler, I napped during his naps every day and it was wonderful. And I went to bed pretty much right after he did too in the evenings. Ha. It was just what I needed during that time, but eventually having NO time to myself to get anything done started to get to me so I weaned myself off the naps a couple of months ago and have been fine. 

Fourth, the reason I have been fine without the naps: I started exercising every day. Nothing too hard core, I assure you. Every morning Grady and I go for a walk. Then we come home and he gets to pick his one show to watch for the day while I do some strength training. I didn't exercise AT ALL when I was pregnant with Grady, for a variety of reasons. I can remember during my last trimester with him being completely wiped out/winded after just walking upstairs or taking a shower, and having to lie down. I decided I wanted to prevent that this time, as much as possible anyway. After all, I have a toddler to keep up with all day! I am not sleeping well at night (I just don't when I am pregnant--I have come to accept that fact) and wake up with a tired headache at least 4 or 5 days a week, but I have found that if I exercise in the morning I miraculously have so much more energy and my headache either goes away or diminishes for awhile. I've found that if I exercise and make sure to lie down for at least 15 or 20 minutes during the day, that the energy burst usually lasts me until 4 or 5 pm, which is most of the day that I am alone with Grady. So...I will definitely keep it up!

Fifth, and probably one of my favorites, MY FREEZER. Back in January, the morning sickness and fatigue I experienced in the fall wer still very fresh on my mind. I knew I might be pregnant soon, and I was dreading going through those parts again. Then I came up with an idea. I looked on Craigslist and found a small deep freezer that would just fit into our kitchen. Then I got to work stocking it up with about 40 freezer dinners, plus some other homemade breakfast, lunch and snack foods. I decided I would use about 3 freezer meals each week, Matthew worked late nights on Tuesdays so I didn't cook then, I made one or two crockpot meals each week, and handed Sunday dinners over to Matthew (which he gladly accepted because he is the greatest husband).  Absolute best thing I could have done to prepare! I have hardly cooked at all since mid-February, besides some easy or crockpot meals, and there are still just a few freezer meals left. This was a life-saver in those early tired months! I plan to do it again before the baby comes and again with each pregnancy. 

All in all, things are going so well. My sister, who already has a boy Grady's age, is having a baby girl this summer. I am excited about our matching families with kiddos that will be able to play together! A few weeks ago I finally told Grady that there is a baby in Mommy's tummy. He came up and started hugging and kissing my belly, and wanting to "touch baby," and has been doing it ever since. He got to come with us to the ultrasound and was fascinated. He loves looking at the printouts we got from the doctor and talking about his baby sister. He seems to kind of get it, as much as a kid can at that age, I suppose. I'm excited for him to have a sibling. There may be some rough transition time at first, but I think he is going to be a great big brother. 

Wish me luck through the hot and humid summer! :) 

Friday, June 13, 2014


Grady is a talker. He talks from the moment he wakes up, til the moment he falls asleep. He will talk to himself, to us, to strangers in the park or the store--it doesn't matter to him, so long as he gets to talk! It's kind of crazy because back around Christmas time he said maybe two words. Recently I tried to make a list of all of the words I've heard him say. I got to 350 and gave up. 

Matthew and I thought it would be fun to record some of the cute/funny things he's said recently. Here are a few that we came up with.

Gradyisms: 21 Months Old

  • A few weeks ago I needed to ask Matthew something. He was upstairs and I was downstairs, so I shouted, "Honey!?" to get his attention. Grady immediately ran to the foot of the stairs, looked up and shouted (about 5 times louder than I did), "HONEY!!!!"

  •  Lately he has started addressing his father as "Maffew" sometimes instead of Daddy. Then he giggles.
  • There is a word that Grady cannot pronounce correctly. Sometimes we think he is trying to say "bench," but other times that doesn't fit the context. Whatever it is that he is trying to say, it sounds exactly like a certain expletive. Two weeks in a row during church, right as the sacrament was being passed (the most silent and holy time of the meeting), he chose to shout out that word at the top of his lungs. The first time only Matthew and I heard it. The second time it was clear that several people around us heard as well...

  • The other day he grabbed a brush and brushed his hair, then exclaimed, "cute hair!"

  • While we are on walks he loves to watch people cutting their grass and yells out, "lawn more! weed whacker!"

  • A few weeks ago I was making his lunch. We had had taco salad that week, so we had chips in the house, which we usually don't. I asked him, "Would you like some cucumbers and cheese and chips for lunch?" He replied, "No. Jus chips."

  • He is obsessed with basketball hoops. Every time we go for a walk or a drive he can be heard frequently calling out, "Hoooop! Hoooop!" whenever he spots one. He and I go for a walk every morning right after daddy leaves for work. He knows exactly where each hoop is on our route (which I am NOT allowed to vary, lest he should miss seeing any of them) and he has named them all: first hoop, corner hoop, trees hoop, clear hoop, house hoop, orange hoop and white hoop. Orange hoop is his favorite.

  • Back in April he threw up all over his carseat on the way back from going out to breakfast at Der Dutchman with Aunt Caroline and Cousin Scott when they were in town. Luckily he had eaten a ton of strawberries at breakfast (his favorite food), so it ended up being pink and, strangely, the sweetest, most pleasant smelling throw up ever. We had to take apart his car seat and wash it all up, so the parts were drying all over the house for a day or two. For the next several weeks, and even still sometimes, he will say, "Uh-oh, carseat, strawbies!" 

  • As soon as daddy walks in the door from work, Grady goes crazy with excitement and runs into the living room yelling, "Daddy hat! Gady hat! Base-a-ball! Outside!"

  • Every morning when they wake up, daddy and Grady sit together in front of the computer and watch ESPN highlights. As a result, Grady loves sports, especially whatever is in season. Matthew doesn't really watch hockey, but he recently watched some highlights of a big hockey game with Grady because it was the finals or something (I'm out of the loop there...). Later that day, Grady grabbed a sippy cup lid that was round and flat, and started hitting it across the floor with a long spoon while saying, "hockey puck!" When Matthew called at lunchtime I asked him if he had told Grady about hockey pucks. He said, "No....I didn't mention them at all. He must have picked it up from the one video I showed him!"

  • He is a total tattle tale. When a friend is over and he doesn't like what he/she is doing, he will run up to the friend's mom and start telling her what happened. The good thing about this is that he also tells on himself. Whenever he does something naughty, he will come and immediately report what he has done to me or Matthew, followed by, "Bad choice!"

  • Last Sunday during church Grady was coloring on his magna doodle. As he colored he said, "G...R...Y.....Gady!" as if he were trying to write his name. 

  • When Grady is doing something fun, we usually give him a warning before it's time to quit ("two more minutes and then it's time to stop") because it seems to help him handle the transition better. Last week one night Matthew said, "Okay, Grady, bedtime!" Grady replied, "Minutes!"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Camera is a Bad Word in this House.

Grady has learned that he can see pictures and videos of himself on the back of the camera. Now every time camera is pulled out that is the ONLY thing he thinks should be done with it. And, being the toddler that he is, he throws a tantrum if we try to do anything else with the camera (such as, heaven forbid, take his photo). Why do such mean parents exist?

(Trying on oven mitts)

(Wearing Daddy's socks)

(Sporting some pharmacy paraphernalia from a conference Daddy went to)

(Happy Easter)

We do occasionally get decent pictures, but he has to be majorly distracted or excited about something in order for that to happen. So for now we just keep collecting pictures like this. To remind us what life was really like.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Keeping Perspective

I had one of those days.
The kind where small (and silly) frustrations pile up enough to feel super big.
And then I end up having a meltdown. 

It is General Conference weekend. It happens twice a year and it's where the prophet, apostles and other church leaders speak in a worldwide conference on a variety of subjects. There are four general sessions on Saturday and Sunday that last two hours each (plus one more in the evening for the men and one the week before for the women). basically lasts all weekend, but it is a wonderful retreat from the cares of life. I love it because I receive fantastic instruction for my life and am spiritually uplifted. 


everything about General Conference changes when you have a one-year-old in the room.

I love my child. So, so much. But today, I was very frustrated with him. Probably more than I ever have been, if I'm being perfectly honest. And for no good reason.

His nap was ridiculously short, but no matter how hard we tried he would not sleep again. Instead he ran around talking yelling, crying, climbing on me, whining, making messes, crying, getting into things he shouldn't, yelling even louder, wanting things and then changing his mind as soon as he got them, crying--in short, doing what he does every day (although the short nap did put him more on the cranky side, hence all the crying).  

This behavior is normal in our house. It usually doesn't phase me (too much). But somehow this afternoon it bothered me a lot. It may have been because I was straining to hear what the speakers were saying over shouts of, "HELP! UP! MILK! CAR! BUS! NO! BOOGIE! POOP! MOMMY! COLOR!" Or because I couldn't even stay in the same room as the t.v. for more than two minutes. Or because I was having a difficult time feeling spiritually edified with 25 pounds of child jumping on me. 

Whatever the reason, I am embarrassed to say it, but about halfway through the afternoon session I totally lost it. I got mad and yelled and turned off the t.v., going on about how there was no point in even trying to watch if it was just going to make me upset, and then ended up crying at the kitchen table because I felt like the worst mom ever. 


Fast forward to tonight.

I just put Grady to bed. I changed his diaper, put on his jammies (with great difficulty--he kept yelling, "NOOO! Nakee!" and flailing to resist my efforts), brushed his teeth, read stories and said prayer with him. Then we turned out the lights. He wanted me to sing his favorite primary song, "I Am a Child of God," so I held him and sang all four verses, then tucked him in with his stuffed animals. I walked downstairs, letting out an exhausted sigh of relief that the day was finally coming to a close. 

Then I sat down and turned on the baby monitor, only to hear him singing "I Am a Child of God" to himself for the next ten minutes. And today's evil mommy heart melted into a puddle. 

I am thankful for moments like these that help me remember what really matters when I start to get caught up in the little things. What I learned today is this: So what if I don't get to hear all (or any) of the conference talks on the day they are given? I can catch up on them later. But I can't catch up on being a calm and loving influence for my sweet son. How will he learn to know God's love and peace if he doesn't first know mine? I think this reminder was more important than anything I could have heard in conference today.