Monday, December 22, 2008

Emerson's Favorite Christmas Song

For your viewing pleasure, here is our boy in his favorite outfit, singing his favorite Christmas song (something he does ten times a day), and keeping pretty good rhythm all the while. Merry Christmas!

video

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eight Years


Eight years ago, Tad and I got married. We were both only 22 years old, we had only known each other for a year and a half, had only officially dated for five months, had no money, were a history major and an art history major, and were totally smitten with each other. Our journey together has taken us from BYU to upstate New York as VISTA volunteers, Boston for grad school, SLC for law school, parenthood twice (and an impending third time), and through miles of emotional and spiritual maturation.
As much as I love to think of those early days, of the intensity and sweetness of our love then, I would never trade it for what we have now. There is nobody in this world who understands the whole of me (and accepts it unconditionally) the way Tad does. I have no idea why I get to be lucky enough to have a companion who is as totally loving as Tad -- it's certainly not because I deserve it. He views my imperfections with a smile, tolerating my impassioned rants, my nagging, and my overall spiritual inferiority with what never feels like mere tolerance. There is nothing that I approach in which Tad doesn't demonstrate absolute confidence in me, something I need so much. And he's there . . .he spends time with me, with our kids, with our friends, and working on our house, despite his many commitments.
I have a hard time thinking about Tad as a dad without getting emotional. The tenderness, kindness, compassion, patience, and total love with which he treats them is an example to me and an enormous advantage to our kids. He always backs me up with them, always complements my efforts with them, and dotes on their every development while understanding their limitations and idiosyncrasies. I could not have lucked out more. I love you forever, Tad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First Online Endorsement

I don't usually endorse products on this family blog, but we found a book we like so well we thought we had to share it with our friends and family. It's called The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child by Alan Kazdin (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0618773673). Now before you jump to any conclusions, I'll beat you to it -- of course my kids are "defiant". They are children, after all, and that certainly goes with the territory. And perhaps that's why we like this book so much -- Kazdin understands that to be a child is to be defiant and therefore to be a parent is to understand how to deal with it effectively. Kazdin is no novice or crackpot; he's the director of the Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic at Yale and has been researching for 30+ years. So the book is based on legitimate research and is brief, well written, and even funny.
I'm sure all of you have perfect children, but you may just want to check this out anyway.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!


Usually I leave politics out of our blog, but with how amazingly historical lastnight's election results were, I do have to comment. No matter who you are, no matter what your political persuasions might be, I think we can all agree that the election of Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is truly remarkable. If you're like our family and have been reading about and rooting for Obama for years, you're doubly excited at the results. But I think all of us can see the path of this brilliant man's life, see his humble beginnings, and feel a sense of hope that our children truly can become anything they want to be.
In other news, we've had a busy month. Emerson turned FIVE!! Each time I say it, it still sounds crazy. We had his third dinosaur-themed party which was also his first drop-off party. At first, I thought I must be crazy to invite over seven of Emerson's friends and tell their parents to just leave, but it turned out great. They did a dinosaur stomp (stomping candy-filled balloons), a dinosaur freeze-dance contest, and made their own pizzas. Somehow the kids all behaved perfectly and didn't even cover our floor in pizza toppings. Much thanks to both grandmas for cool gifts and lots of help, and to all friends who gave such cool gifts! Now the only question is how many more dinosaur parties lie ahead.
I think we had our most pumpkin-centric October ever. First we carved pumpkins (way too early, but the kids were excited), the kids loving the goopy feeling of scooping out the seeds with their bare hands. Then we got to visit a pumpkin patch with Emerson's preschool class. It was so entertaining to see the kids run through the hay maze and try to lift their weight in pumpkins. We're so lucky that Emerson's preschool teacher is so adventurous. Both kids also decorated pumpkins at our ward Halloween party as well, so our porch is home to a little pumpkin colony whose precise arrangement changes each time we go through our front door. Surprisingly the sturdy squashes also survived Stella's impromptu game of projectile pumpkins.
Both kids definitely had ample opportunities to wear their Halloween costumes this year as well. Stella (Cinderella) and Emerson (Spinosaurus) attended our ward's Halloween party with all of its fun games and activities and perhaps the cheesiest magician of all time. We also went with Grandma and Grandpa Baker to their ward Halloween Party, a fun tradition that the kids look forward to each year. Their stockpile of candy was therefore quite large before the actual holiday even arrived. Sadly, Stella had had a nagging cough/sinus infection for more than two weeks by the time Halloween arrived and Emerson came down with a horrible cold the day before. So we had to miss out on Emerson's preschool party and spend the day resting so we could do some trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. As an extra treat, Aunt Caroline came over for our stew dinner (which we served in pumpkin-esque bread bowls the kids helped me make) before heading out with us for trick-or-treating. Lots of kids were out in our neighborhood and the warm temperatures made it so even our sick little guy could completely fill his treat bag.
Now we're hunkered down in our house as it snows like crazy outside and we pray for this ridiculous cold to finally leave our family. Believe me, I've given a whole new meaning to the term "stay-at-home mom" over the past couple of weeks. But it's getting increasingly pleasant to stay in our house all the time because Tad has made such progress on our projects. All of the bookshelves/closets are framed in and we've begun dry-walling. So give us a few more months and it should actually be functional.
On a sadder note, Tad's grandpa, Juan Lynn, passed away in October at just shy of 99 years old. He was truly an inspirational person, an example of faithful dilligence and kindness who personified the name his great-grandchildren gave to him, "Grandpa the Great." After such a long and healthy life, his death leaves us sad but grateful to have known him and confident in where he is now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Boys V. Girls

So today was the big day I know you've all been waiting for. Sorry if everyone had trouble sleeping lastnight due to the excitement, but we now officially have the answer. Drum roll, please. . . It's a BOY!!! And, more importantly, HE appears at first assessment to have all of the necessary body parts in tact. I'll post an ultrasound pic soon, but I couldn't get the cd images to work. But let me assure all of you, there was no doubt on this diagnosis.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adulthood







I'm so grateful for my life, for the love by which I'm surrounded and the endless ways in which I seem to be blessed. But I still feel like I'm playing at this whole adulthood thing, still feel amazed at the thought of having three kids, a mortgage, student loans, a husband with a "real" church calling, and being thirty in a couple of months. I frequently find myself wondering when all of these real, adult things happened -- in a good way, I think because the journey has largely been so smooth and relatively painless.
The past couple of weeks, however, have felt all too adult as Tad and I have taken on some pretty major home repair/renovation projects. In an attempt to make Emerson's bedroom larger/add a closet and shelf space in order to make it a share-able space for him and Stella, we tore apart the wall separating his room from our family room. It's always seemed way too thick and we found out why -- the concrete footing that separated the old basement from what used to be a crawl space and is now our family room is still in place. That's right, four feet high and eight inches thick, and completely un-removable because not only is it load-bearing, but it also is in the only precise location where a load-bearing wall can exist. But two good things came out of it -- Emerson and Stella shared her room for several nights (most of them by choice rather than necessity) and it was adorable. Also, we're now adding a bunch of built-in shelving in our family room in addition to the closet in Emerson's room.
The second and much more ridiculous project all began with a funky under-the-kitchen-sink smell that we had noticed since our last "professional" plumber visit. The curse of our home ownership story has been our waste water pipe, a fat lead sucker that has had several holes in it over the past year. So Tad decided to replace the apparently offending section of our waste water pipe, the T under the kitchen sink. It was a little ambitious because it's embedded in concrete, but it's amazing the confidence a sawzall and a do-it-yourself plumbing store can bestow. As the Saturday progressed, however, it became apparent that the entire pipe, from below the basement ceiling all the way through the roof, was crumbling and needed to be replaced. Still undeterred (and unwilling to hire yet another incompetent plumber), Tad sought some advice, climbed up on our roof, and spent several hours literally cutting, chipping, and finally pulling the nine-foot section of pipe out. Incredibly, the all-new pipe works much better than our old one ever did -- not a single leak and our disposal and sink actually drain better than they ever have. And the best part is that Tad's superman work probably saved us about $1000.
On the non-adult front, both Emerson and Stella rock the house. Lately Emerson loves to set up his "office" in his room, getting a lamp, an ornament for his desk (usually a dinosaur), pens and paper, and working on his "reports". On Sunday during sacrament meeting, the pew at church was his desk and he wrote three "reports", each a letter to a member of the family. With a little help from mom, he wrote "Dear Dadde I miss you when Im at work," "Stella always bothers me when Im at work," and "Crosby I know its your first time coming to work with me." It took almost all of sacrament meeting at it was awesome!
Stella continues to literally prance through life, walking on her tip toes and saying, "It's wonderful. . .wonderful." She'll sit still for as many books as I'll read to her, she loves to wear her sunglasses, and she deliberately provokes her brother (ah, a true little sister) by calling him names and growling, then turning away with a sly grin as he erupts. He has yet to understand that the reaction is what it's all about for her. But she adores Emerson and still asks for him every time he goes to preschool.
Baby May #3 (we'll know the gender next week, hopefully) continues to progress well. I can't imagine this one is anything but a boy because the natural order of both Tad's family and mine (as well as Tim and Kirse's) predicts this. At this point, however, I think it must be a large hamster that loves to wiggle and push out right on top of my bladder. Not exactly the lovey-dovey mommy-baby image you might expect, but this is my third and reality beats idealism this time around. I'm expecting great things from this one because he/she demands that I spend at least one hour each day reading with my feet up (at least I'm telling myself it's the fetus and not my laziness).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yellowstone Is Amazing!







We Salt Lake City Mays joined forces with the Vancouver Mays and the California Kings and ventured up to Yellowstone earlier this month. Lisa had never been and she and the kids literally spent months preparing -- checking out library books, looking at websites, and pretending to be Yellowstone animals. Kirse's siblings put us up in great style at their houses in Idaho Falls our first night and we'd like to offer them a special thanks.
There was some concern that the reality of Yellowstone wouldn't live up to the hype, but it more than did! On our first day in the park, (after immediately seeing several elk on the side of the road) we drove straight to Old Faithful, which happened to be due to erupt within minutes. We watched the whole splendid event from a great vantage point and the kids (particularly Stella) just adored it. Next we hiked a trail that started near Old Faithful and took us past multiple geysers and hot pots. Emerson and his cousin, Ethan, held hands the whole way and marveled at all the names for the various features while Stella unexpectedly enjoyed riding in the jogging stroller the whole way (a welcome surprise when burning death lurks disguised on either side of the trail). We topped off our first day with a hike at Fountain Paint Pots where some of the geysers and mud pots have been turned green or pink by algae and bacteria. It was like a mysterious lunar landscape that we could hardly believe was earthly.
Day two involved some brilliant planning by Kirse, making it possible for us to encounter a whole herd of bison roaming and resting on either side of the road. At one point, a bison pair crossed the road immediately behind our car and the male turned his head, looked at our car, and gruffed. Emerson and Stella were thrilled! And the close encounters didn't end there; when we arrived to hike the mud volcano trail, bison were on either side of it, at one point crossing at a nearly uncomfortable proximity. It was on this hike that Emerson made his top two comments of the trip. When he and Ethan were strolling along next to Caroline, Emerson turned to his aunt and said, "You probably don't want to hold our hands because we're going to talk about gross stuff." As soon as Caroline let go, Emerson turned to Ethan and said, "So what about T-rex poop?" While watching a bison standing next to a small geyser, Emerson remarked, "He's standing there so the geyser will hit him in the butt." Oh the humor of a four-year-old boy!
We also got to see both the Upper and Lower Falls, images of Bierstadt and Moran paintings flashing through our brains, particularly at Artists' Point. On our way out of the park that day, we saw bald eagles and more elk, in addition to the trout we'd seen in the river during our lunch picnic.
Our final day, we didn't explore Yellowstone but stopped at a couple of fun places as we drove home. First we visited Big Springs, which consisted of a gorgeous pond and stream where we saw a giant trout and a muskrat swimming in the water (launching a weeks-long obsession with all rodents for Emerson). Then we stopped by Mesa Falls, a gorgeous water fall with gray cliffs cloaked in verdent, cascading ferns. It was a perfect way to cap off the visual extravaganza that was our trip. And once again, we were completely blown away by what excellent little travelers our kids were; they slept well in strange places, were champs on long car drives (with very minimal dvd viewing), and excited about both the sights and their cousins the entire time.
In other news, Lisa had her second prenatal doctor's visit. After a little hunting, the nurse was able to find the baby's heartbeat for several glorious seconds (with the speakers turned up so loud that Stella still thinks the baby's heartbeat is a deafening boom). Perhaps it's Lisa's innate paranoia, perhaps it's the fact that she didn't have to take any confirmation pregnancy tests at the doctor's office, but until that moment, Lisa had started to wonder if this pregnancy might all be psychosomatic. Feeling better at an early stage and being forced by the needs of her already existing children to ignore most symptoms had literally made her forget, at times, that she was pregnant. But all hopes and joys were restored as Lisa heard that little heartbeat.
Preschool started back up for Emerson yesterday, reminding us that summer truly is coming to a close. How did it go so fast? And while our little guy loves going to preschool, we're somewhat sad to have him gone again three mornings each week -- we can't even think about kindergarten next year. So now we're again cherishing each afternoon of splash time in the back yard when Emerson and Stella bask in the sun. And we're finally enjoying all the fruits (or vegetables, as the case may be) of our garden -- super-juicy tomatoes (making excellent salsa) and crunchy cucumbers -- and anticipating the ears of corn that actually grew, apples that weigh our tree heavily (Lisa sees the near future in this plight), and pumpkins for which we still hope. We hope you all are well and send our love.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Eggs Frying on the Sidewalk






Remember in the dead of winter when you're yearning for the heat of summer, longing to feel the roasting sun on your skin for even a few minutes? Well, let's just say that after several sweltering, virtually rainless weeks, we're no longer as jazzed about 98-degree temps. And yet somehow the kids, apparently immune to boredom, still want to splash in our tiny pool every afternoon. Despite our best efforts on the sunscreen front, the deep brown tans have taken over as the hair has lightened to its summer blond.
It's been so fun, though, to do some summer activities and exploration. At the end of June, the kids took swimming lessons together at Fairmont Pool. I know what you're thinking, and yes, Lisa is somewhat crazy for signing up a two-year-old. In her defense, imagine the meltdown tantrums eight days in a row if Stella had to watch her brother get in the pool while she couldn't. We rest our case. While Stella's boldness in the pool did not diminish (as Lisa had hoped it might) with the cautioning efforts of swimming teachers, Emerson's boldness (as Lisa had hoped) definitely increased; at the start of swimming lessons, he wouldn't allow his ears, eyes, or head to get wet. Now he rolls around in the water, gladly going under and dipping all body parts. We're still working on jumping in. But by some miracle, somehow both Emerson and Stella passed!
The Fourth of July was fantastic! We started off by going to the East Millcreek Children's Parade with Grandma and Grandpa Baker. As the parade consisted of people chucking handfuls of candy to the spectators, both Emerson and Stella were fully captivated. By the time we were done, we had filled Emerson's bike helmet and Lisa's bag to the brim. The greatest part of the parade -- when you're tired of it, you just stand up and join in, kids on bikes or in strollers, and toss out any of your candy that you want to get rid of (thank heavens). In the evening, we ventured up Millcreek Canyon for a picnic and a short hike with Crosby. It was so cool and refreshing up there that it required some coaxing to get us back down.
Our second awesome hike of the month was up the Dog Lake trail in Millcreek. We made it about three-quarters of the way before serious hunger set in for the kids, but Emerson hiked all the way up and ran down. Stella enjoyed the jogger stroller and Crosby indulged his instinctive urge to jump in all water he sees. He seriously is a perfect dog, coming each time we called him, putting himself in between the kids and any strange dogs, and absolutely loving his trek up the mountain. He seems to have virtually no limit in terms of endurance when it comes to hiking.
Lagoon (or, as Emerson calls it "little Disneyland") was another great adventure for our family. Because it was our Stake's Lagoon Day, all of Emerson and Stella's little neighborhood buddies were there. So the unexpected fear Stella demonstrated on the first whirling and swirling ride with Emerson disappeared when she went on the next ride with her friend, Whitney. Emerson became the ringleader of his little buddies, inspiring them to conquer even the menacing "Puff the Magic Dragon" roller coaster. It was obnoxiously hot, but so worth seeing the kids' indefatigable excitement.
Our Pioneer Day celebration was fun, too. We trekked out to Liberty Park to enjoy the general chaos of the parade. Floats are mysterious and fascinating things for a boy who must understand all of the physics of the mechanical devices he sees. The marching bands with all of their trumpets were also exciting to our trumpet-tooting boy. Stella particularly enjoyed the horses and cars, but especially loved the extra attention afforded by Grandma Baker, Aunt Betsy, and Aunt Kim.
We also ventured up to Dean's grave in Honeyville with Grandma May a few weeks ago. The cemetery there is so beautiful with the mountains behind, and Emerson enjoyed reading names off the head stones, especially the old ones with ancestors' names on them. The stone house built by James May, who crossed the plains as a pioneer, still stands and a May (we think) still lives in it. This also fascinated the kids. As a special treat, we also ate at Maddox -- a culinary delight enjoyed by all.
One truly amazing development this month -- Stella and Emerson have started (and will continue, knock on wood) to play together daily for hours on end without major conflict. Usually Emerson wakes up in the morning having decided which creature he will be for the day and which similar but smaller and less frightening animal Stella with therefore be. Watch out if you mess up and don't call Emerson the appropriate creature -- and stay on your toes because it changes throughout the day. The kids' favorite game to play together is "Yellowstone", in preparation for our upcoming trip. They make a bed of blankets on our family room floor, pretend to sleep, and wake up ready to see geysers, hot pots, hot springs, bears, and wolves. They pretend to be testing out different pools of water to determine the temperature before plunging in, imagine that bears are chasing them, and pretend to be various creatures themselves, searching for nuts and berries.
Both children have become so inquisitive that we find ourselves answering at least a dozen questions each hour. Emerson must understand the motivations of each character in any shows he watches, how every device works, and what different body parts do and are called. Stella asks endless questions about the songs we sing to her, constantly asks why she can't do this or that, and forever requests assistance in removing clothes.
Now for those of you who didn't read the entire blog -- shame on you!! Because our big news is saved for last. . . The third May baby will be joining us next February! That's right, Lisa is pregnant (about 10 weeks)!!! We're amazed and excited, somewhat doubtful about our ability to handle three little wigglers, and truly grateful. Love to all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Two Going on Twelve






So here we are in the middle of June, bright sunshine and 93 degrees outside, and we're huddled inside watching Disney movies as the kids hack out coughs from their three-week-long cold. To be fair, it's actually been two colds with only one day of intermission (luckily on Stella's birthday) between. In spite of the unseasonable illness, however, we've found time to participate in some great summer activities.
We chased geese at the Wheeler Farm library day, an event at which literally seventy-five percent of the cars were either Odysseys or Siennas. Then we enjoyed Emerson's end-of-year preschool party at the park. It's so fun to see all of the preschool kids running wild and all of the teachers truly basking in it. Each year there's a water balloon fight to cap it off and one older sister of a girl in Emerson's class decided to exclusively target Tad who was in tie and all. It was great!
As previously mentioned, we've also spent lots of time in our back yard. A few weeks ago, Tad climbed up into a couple of our trees out there and hacked off some giant dead limbs with a hand saw. Then he chopped up the pieces and built a tee pee for the kids, which they loved for about one day. The tee pee was soon superseded by two natural pest control items -- a fake owl to keep birds out of our strawberry patch and a bag of ladybugs to eat the pests off of our garden and apple tree. After scattering the bugs, the kids (especially Emerson) monitored their presence each day, fearlessly picking them up and seeing how long they would crawl up an arm before flying away. Owlie (creative name, I know) the owl now multitasks as a bird scarer and a garden friend.
Last week we were also lucky enough to head down to Family Art Days at the BYU Museum of Art. There were SO many fun things for the kids -- water color painting, face painting, medieval dancing, story telling, and especially Grandma May. And Lisa got to see some friendly faces she hadn't seen in years and just enjoy the experience of being in that wonderful building. She actually felt the need to reconnect with the art museum community and is now searching for a way to do so.
Last Saturday we celebrated Stella's second (though by her attitude, you'd guess about twelfth) birthday with a back yard water party. Several of Stella's little friends (and, for Emerson's enjoyment, their older brothers) gathered in swimming suits on an absolutely perfect day to enjoy our little splash pool, the crazy sprinkler, bubble blowing, a water balloon toss/fight, a barbecue, and cake. The birthday girl spent ninety percent of her party splashing in the pool. Cousin Elle and Stella shrieked with Stella's friend, Emma as they jumped up and down and twirled around. Our cute friend, Olive (who's moving to Portland and no longer hanging out with us twice a week, sniffle sniffle), enjoyed her very first meat at the party -- and entire Costco hot dog! And Stella has not voluntarily taken off the princess dress-ups she received since the party. It's almost disturbing to see the degree to which she takes to this whole prissy princess role. Her new play stove/oven from her grandparents is now the home for Emerson's toy snakes. Thank you to all who came to help us celebrate out little girl.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Growing Like Weeds






These past couple of months have been really interesting. As we've been able to get out into our yard and really work, the world we rediscover each spring has unfolded itself miraculously before our eyes. First we loaded up on garden supplies at the IFA store and more than doubled the size of our garden plot. Emerson and Stella dug right in, literally. It never ceases to amaze us how fearlessly a four year-old boy can grab the wriggliest, plumpest worm or the fuzziest, bumpiest caterpillar. And unfortunately for these creatures, Emerson is learning valuable lessons about life and death in the process. After some hard work, some planting (and re-planting), our garden now includes several tomato plants, corn sprouts, cucumber (we hope), asparagus, LOTS of onions, a strawberry patch, and (hopefully) some pumpkins.
We have also dug into our seemingly endless list of home improvement projects for the season. After enjoying the lovely view of our neighbor's orchard through our downed back fence for months (despite Tad's repeated attempts to patch it until the ground thawed), we finally got the fence back up last month. This involved setting the posts in concrete and spacing them closer together to strengthen the fence, but was surprisingly easy. So any of you out there who are thinking of hiring a crew to build a fence for you -- think of us first! We'll bring the kids and camp out in your yard all Saturday and let our chaos spread like a weed.
Fortunately this fence rebuilding project allowed Lisa to assess both Tad's tool needs and his willingness to engage in tool-related projects. So for his big THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY last Sunday, Tad got "Three Saws for Thirty" -- a sawzall, a circular saw, and a miter saw. He was totally surprised due to a lot of sneakiness on the part of many. Thanks to all of you who contributed, we were able to get him some very nice saws and further entice him to conquer the looming projects. And a special thanks to our moms for throwing to nice birthday celebrations.
And on the subject of Tad's big birthday, I'd like to just take a second in this rambling update to express to Tad how truly lucky I feel to be his wife. I fell in love with Tad for two reasons: 1)his sparkling good looks and 2)his ability to really listen to and understand people. To this day, I am constantly amazed at the fact that all of my deepest, best conversations happen with this man I fell in love with over my deepest, best conversations to that point. The conversations just keep happening! And he's just so incredible at everything he does, from his job to his church service to his interaction with his children. He balances it all so well, despite pressure from all sides.
We really got to celebrate Tad's birthday well this year because there are also several May birthday's in Lisa's family. Kim and Kasey's little twins, Diesel and Elle, had their first birthday May 15, Kasey's birthday was May 17, and Lisa's mom's birthday was May 23, so we all had a huge combined party at the Baker compound. With the twins setting records for cuteness, we all gathered round to stuff our faces, open gifts, and beat a poor, helpless donkey pinata to death.
This month also included some fun firsts. Emerson got his first real bike, thanks to Aunt Kim's nephew, Harrison. The moment the training wheels were on, Emerson was off! He could spend hours pedaling back and forth in our driveway on his yellow "faster bike", pausing only occasionally to hop off and look for bugs, worms, and other "specimens" with which he is endlessly fascinated.
We also had our first yard sale, and while it wasn't exactly the blockbuster affair you may all expect us to report, it helped us achieve our yard sale goal of buying a new couch for our family room. Now we know that those of you who have sat on the dark blue Ikea loveseat that more closely resembles doll house furniture than real person furniture may wonder why we would ever part with such a gem of comfort and luxury. For those of you, we invite you to come over and test out our new, adult-size loveseat (yes, we can only fit loveseats down our stairs), and sinnk into the heavenly comfort of the plush microfiber cushions. It's so nice to actually have our bodies feel comfortable at the end of the day.
Tad also took a day off work to spend with the kids (giving Lisa the day off -- yahoo!) and take them to ride the Frontrunner Trax train. It's the commuter express that now runs north along the Wasatch Front from Salt Lake City. For Emerson and Stella, it was like being inside Thomas the Tank Engine's world, and Emerson continues to ask all of his friends if they've "ridden the Frontrunner yet".
Stella's important first was that she had her fingernails and toenails painted. It was also the first time Lisa painted her toenails in nearly a year, so there was excitement all around. Stella loves to show everyone her "pretty, white sparkly toes." And she has plenty of opportunity to show them to everyone because she insists on wearing only sandals at all times, which goes well with her strict standards regarding clothes. She prefers to only wear bloomers and a t-shirt with her sandals, whether it's forty degrees or eighty degrees outside. And sadly this is quickly becoming a scenario Lisa is more willing to accept because the alternative is that Stella wears her true outfit of choice -- her birthday suit. Every time she turns around, Lisa finds Stella naked running through the house, the back yard, wherever. Tad and Lisa comfort themselves with the thought that at least Stella is proud of her body and confident in herself.
To all of you and your children, be they clothed or be they naked, we send our love!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Our Journey Through the Desert






Miracle of miracles, for the first time in two years (that's right, since before Stella was born), we took a May family vacation a couple of weeks ago. Having been a new hire at Utah County for six months and then a new hire at Salt Lake County for six months, Tad had not been able to take a single vacation day for a year -- until this month! It's hard to say who was most excited about our trip to St. George, Tad and Lisa or Emerson. Emerson was convinced that we were actually moving to his "grandma's condo in the desert" where he would see snakes, frogs, and lizards running wild everywhere. When he realized our relocation was not permanent, he melted down.
Inexplicably, both kids were absolute champs on the drive, a remarkable fact considering that a thirty-minute drive around town is often enough to get them whining in the car. They watched dvds, stared at countless cows in the rolling pastures on either side of the road, and invented a game in which they take turns patting each other's head and saying "guggie". And once we arrived, the good behavior continued. Stella and Emerson shared a room by choice and actually stayed in their beds, went to sleep easily, and didn't wake each other up. There is hope for an eventual permanent room share!
The only kink in our trip happened moments after our arrival when Lisa leaned down to plug in the kids' night light and smacked her head on the edge of a piano. She sent the kids into a panic when they saw the blood coming from her eyebrow. Luckily, Grandpa Baker had equipped the condo with a great first aid kit, including butterfly closures, enabling Lisa to avoid InstaCare.
Otherwise, this was our most wonderful trip to St. George ever. We swam at the splash pool (both kids discovered the virtues of weightlessness when one wears a life jacket), visited a dinosaur dig site, ate some great food, and hiked multiple times each day. In the final wildlife tally, we encountered three lizards, lots of cool birds, and a scorpion at a proximity far too intimate for Lisa's liking. As Emerson was reaching for a hand hold on some red, craggy rocks, the little scorpion shot out from the very rock he was grabbing and Tad pulled Emerson back just in time.
After a quick, uneventful drive home, we moved on to celebrating Easter. We took it fairly easy, letting the Easter Bunny do most of the work. He hid lots of candy-filled eggs for the kids in our front room and even stocked their baskets with back-up candies. And just as Tad and Lisa were certain that candy was the only significant aspect of Easter making any impression on the kids, Emerson proved them wrong. While substituting for a great class in the Primary on Easter Sunday, Lisa sat behind Emerson in sharing time. When the leader asked if Easter was about candy, Emerson shouted out "NO!" Then, when the leader asked what resurrection meant, Emerson's hand shot up and he replied, "when we die and come back to life again, like Jesus." It's great to know some things are sinking in.
And on that note, we just wanted all of you to know that we are truly grateful for the redeeming power of Christ's sacrifice for us, no matter who we are, where we are from, or what we suffer as long as we believe in him. Happy Easter to all of you!