Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Holidays








We've had a wonderful month or so. First, we headed down to St. George for a little pre-holiday chill out time. The kids got to play with their cousins who happened to be down there at the same time, and they particularly enjoyed a little red-rock hike together. Emerson did a four-mile bike ride with dad, I did some good running, and we visited our wonderful friends the Moores.
When we came home, Tad's siblings got in town from California and Washington state. Emerson and Ethan discovered hours of mutual lego-building bliss and went to a Jazz game, Stella got her fill of Sullivan and Karina, and Karina got to play with both of the babies almost as much as she wanted. Afton is truly an amazingly cute little girl and it was so fun to see more of her. Of course it goes without saying that we had an absolutely delicious Thanksgiving dinner at Cheryll's, followed by some great pie at my mom's house. We had some darling family pictures taken, thanks to Cheryll's thoughtful gift of matching sweaters and dresses for all the grandkids and to her neighbor, Roseanne's skills with a camera.
The following week, Stella had her first preschool program. I showed up to watch and noticed a peculiar pinkish tint to her hands as the kids all waved during their first song. Then as Stella took the mic (completely unabashedly as the first kid up), I realized that her face and hair were purplish. My darling little girl had decided on the program day to smear her face and hair with paint during class and despite the teachers' best efforts at scrubbing, she remained pigmented. What more fitting way to capture this stage of her life than to show her covered in paint, singing her heart out and eagerly jabbering into the microphone?
Earlier this week we got our largest Christmas tree yet -- too bad our front room doesn't grow with our trees. After we'd trekked to the lot in sub-freezing temperatures, dragged the tree inside and gotten it standing, we decorated it as a family. For the first time ever, our kids (the older two, anyway) were actually more of a help than a hindrance. They loved decorating and seeing the ornaments they hadn't since last year. And today we got to see Emerson's kindergarten Christmas program. It was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen, all those kids singing, reciting poems, and playing instruments in unison while wearing hats they'd personally made. Emerson really enjoyed it and was so proud of himself.
Atticus has decided crawling isn't really his thing, except for very short distances. He's more of a walking man and he's decided to work on it for hours each day, much to my back's detriment. He has two little teeth and loves to make this little scrunched smile face to show them off. When I scratch his back or tickle his neck, he goes completely mellow and just soaks it up.
We hope you all enjoy this Christmas season and want you to know that we know He is our savior and redeemer. We are so grateful for his life and his sacrifice for us and enjoy this time of year when we can reflect on our blessings. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Birthday Mountain Fun







As you can see, the kids have had a fun month. Halloween was just absolute fun craziness resulting in ridiculous amounts of candy. Stella was Tinkerbell/Fairy Princess/Fairy/A Fairy Tale depending on how she felt. She got so into the character, twirling and striking a pose at preschool when it was her turn to tell about her costume. Emerson was Optimus Prime, but this picture represents the only time he was willing to wear his mask. His parade at school was so fun to see, especially since little sister paraded with his class, holding the hands of several classmates. Atticus was a reluctant Yoda who was more than happy to attend all of the chaotic celebrations.
Emerson turned SIX -- ahhhhh! He had a really fun party at the pool where he and his buddies wrestled energentically on an inner tube. He's reading like a champ, loving kindergarten, and absolutely exploding with energy at all times.
Stella had her first parent-teacher conference (hillarious since it's preschool) and it was a pure delight for Tad to attend. Her teacher basically told Tad that Stella is just pure joy, that she plays with boys and girls equally, participates in every activity, and makes everyone feel good. Seeing her in action in class definitely brings a smile to our faces.
Atticus is on the verge of crawling and is truly frustrated by it; he's constantly trying to reach things and bonking his head and face as he throws himself toward them. He truly is a bottomless pit when it comes to eating and he babbles and babbles all day long. His latest joy is grabbing Emerson (the long-suffering big brother) by either side of the face and literally sucking on his nose, cheeks, etc. as he squeals delightedly.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Disneyland Bonanza




Thanks to Grandma and Aunt Caroline, we just enjoyed a fun and crazy trip to Disneyland with the extended May family. We had two fun-packed days in Disneyland, including a character breakfast at which Stella nearly dissolved when she met both Snow White and Jasmine. The kids loved Splash Mountain (which Stella got to ride with a little help from some rolled-up socks crammed in her shoes), the Monorail, Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours, and the Jungle Cruise. Here is where we edit out Stella's disastrous first day which included a shiner from a tumble off the hotel's bunk bed, a scratched other eye due to blowing debris, a bloody nose from rubbing said irritated eye and face, and a three-hour nap in the stroller amidst Disneyland chaos. Why did it take us several hours to request Tylenol at the first aid station and thereby return our little girl to normal? I have no excuse.
But back to the good stuff. Tied with Disneyland for cool-ness is the beach we visited thanks to Aunt Caroline's super planning. Little Corona beach was perfect -- great waves, sand, tide pools, scenic beauty, and very few people. Emerson fearlessly picked up sea snails while Stella
fearlessly dodged waves with Tad. The kids
had so much fun with their cousins and aunts and uncles that they were literally in tears as we left California for home. Shortly thereafter we parents were nearly in tears as we realized our flight home was delayed three hours and we wouldn't get home until nearly two a.m.. But traveling with Tad and Cheryll was truly a blessing and between stair-racing games and good storytelling we somehow made it through with relatively few freak-outs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Biker Bonanza

Two weeks ago Emerson was miles away from being able to ride his bike without training wheels. He hardly even rode well with training wheels a month ago. Then he decided to take off the trainers and one day we were out in the front yard when I looked up to see him riding like a pro. Less than two weeks later he's cruising so fast it's unbelievable. We spend hours each day on his video
new bike (an early birthday present). Stella also got a new little cruiser bike but has yet to catch the biking bug.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School


A month of firsts! Tad did his first bike race, a 10-mile course that rose 3,300 feet in elevation. He had an awesome time of 1 hr 6 min and is already looking forward to his next race in October.
Stella started preschool, loving that it's finally her turn to stay and enjoying special lunch dates with Grandma Baker. I can't believe she's this big -- how did that happen? She also started her second session of dance lessons and is either a shining star or a puddle on the floor as she awaits her turn.
Emerson started kindergarten and the evidence that he loves it is that he now wakes up at 6:30 a.m. and bolts out the door when it's finally time to leave. He's informed us that he's already building his new "team" of friends. It still doesn't seem right that he has to be at school each morning, that he's actually doing assignments, and that I can just drop him off and he'll go in by himself.
Atticus has been a rolling fiend this past month, moving across the floor or down the aisle at Sunday school.
He started solid foods and so far seems to enjoy pumpkin and smearing his face with the new medium.
I ran a 5K on Monday and finished in 25 minutes, finishing 3rd overall (2nd for women) with my friend. Of course it was a VERY small field of runners, but I'll take what I can get these days. I'm loving this harvest time and coming up with fun new ways to prepare squash and tomatoes. But my head and heart are still aching over the fact that Emerson and Stella are now at school. I want to scream, cling to this special phase I've been in, stop the clock from moving any further, and yet I love to see them growing and blossoming. I suppose that pretty much sums up what motherhood is all about.
Best kid argument this month happened as we were getting in the car to head to school. Stella commented on a potent and funny smell. "That's my fart," said Emerson. "No it's not," countered Stella. "Yes, it's my fart! It is! It is!" Emerson insisted. Don't try to limit his dreams, little sister.




Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lagoon, Cousins, Swimming


The title of this entry makes me smile because it's so perfectly summer. I'm really enjoying this summer because the kids are just blossoming like crazy. Atticus finally has a schedule day and night, Stella is starting to write letters and is dancing like an angel, and Emerson is figuring out how to spell words on his own and playing number games.

We've had a fun and busy month in July, starting with our stake's Lagoon (local amusement park) day a couple of weeks ago. Despite the hundred-degree temperature, it was really fun. Emerson and Stella rode all kinds of rides with their church buddies and even got to go in the water park with Tad. Atticus and I spent the afternoon in search of slightly less roasting locations where I could attempt to nurse him semi-covered as I literally dripped sweat on him. But he was a champ and the older kids could have stayed all night.

Last week Tad's brother, Tim, and his family came into town. Caroline, Tad's sister, was also able to come in town with her darling little baby, Afton, to enjoy the fun. We had a fantastic time, hitting up the zoo (with Dalan, Tim's brother-in-law as our family photographer), the dinosaur park in Ogden (an awesome experience I highly recommend to all with dino-enthusiast kids), the local pool, and the mountains for a fun hike. We also crammed in a LOT of eating, both at favorite restaurants and family barbecues to celebrate Pioneer Day. The barbecue we hosted at our house was capped off by a neurotic Crosby attacking the largest firework, picking it up in his mouth, and running around the yard with it as we all screamed and dodged. All of the kids got along superbly, switching off playmate combinations in fun and flexible ways and Emerson was so sad to say goodbye to his cousins that he literally broke down sobbing. Three days after their departure, Stella is still asking if our cousins will be there whenever we go anywhere. Cousins Karina and Sullivan were so sweet to Atticus, kissing and holding him at each opportunity. What angels!


Swimming is our new favorite activity this summer. I say new because until this summer Emerson and Stella loved our little wading pool more than the big real pools and neither would ever allow his or her head to go under the water. With the beginning of our swimming lessons, they both decided, for some as yet undiscovered reason, that they were ready to go for it. Now Emerson is jumping in, going down smaller slides, and bobbing all the way under. He's constantly giving me the thumbs up sign during swimming lessons. And there is nothing cuter than Stella furiously kicking her little legs as the swim teacher guides her around the pool.




















Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Twirly Tutu Party






Three years ago last month, our sweet Stella arrived. Her bright, beautiful eyes and natural inquisitiveness captured our hearts right away. She is an amazing sister to her two brothers, endlessly cooperating with Emerson's imaginary scenarios and forever giving love to Atticus. We feel like she has arrived at her third birthday suddenly and are constantly surprised by all she can do. When she tosses her head just right so that the curls fall back from her face, looks into our eyes and demurely says, "Sweetie, we're just going to do dress-ups now," our hearts
just melt. We celebrated her third birthday Saturday with a twirly tutu party in preparation for the dance lessons she started the following week. There is little in this world more adorable than watching six little girls assemble tutus, put them on, and then join hands and dance. Stella was on cloud nine as she danced with friends, at pizza, opened some truly special gifts, and blew out candles on her Princess Aurora birthday cake.
Emerson had his last day of preschool last month as well. He'll start kindergarten this fall and after being at the same preschool since he was two, he's a little nervous to leave his buddies behind and venture to a new school. To help him maintain some continuity with his buddies, we had Emerson do another soccer session with them and with Tad as the coach. For some u
nknown reason, Emerson decided that he's completely excited about chasing the ball this time. He gets multiple kicks each game and cheers his teammates when he's on the sideline. Tad is, as expected, an awesome coach. The kids all love to give him five after scoring a goal and they are somehow undefeated after six games.
Atticus is a perpetual motion machine, with his left leg being the driving force. When he's nursing, he kicks his left leg; when he sits in his bouncy seat, he kicks his left leg to bounce; when he's lying on a blanket, he thumps the floor with his left foot. But when he's in the bathtub he uses all four limbs to splash with such intensity that the parent bathing him ends up soaking wet. The other night we let him have some snow cone ice (his first solid experience) and he absolutely adored it, smacking his lips and grinning like a cheshire cat.
Tad's biking development continues. He's now become the canyon master, climbing at least one canyon per week in addition to his daily ride to and from work. He also finally proved his manliness in the automotive arena by successfully replacing the starter motor on his car in just over an hour. In May he and a friend also turned lumberjack and sawed down the giant dead maple trees in our front yard. The transformation is really great. Tad's also been assigned to a homicide case at work and is learning new things all the time.
I'm finding life as the mom of three really great -- not to say it isn't challenging. I just feel more confident and like I can find ways to make things work pretty well most of the time. Emerson is frequently my little helper and his help is essential. In June I had some varicose veins surgically removed and so have much less pain than I've had in six years. And after a bout of food poisoning, I'm loving running again and can't wait to get up to longer distances. I'm also enjoying our garden so much. It's such a challenge to figure out how to solve the various pest, water and sun problems presented by our various plants and I love going out in the morning to find a new zucchini or butternut squash has seemingly appeared over night.
We also celebrated the Fourth of July as well. It was so much fun to participate in the Millcreek bike and family parade, play at the park afterward, and have a great barbecue at our house that evening. Tad's brats have never tasted better and it was so delightful just to take time to talk to everyone and see the kids run wild in their bathing suits around the back yard. The highlight was definitely when Stella stripped off her suit and peed on the big pine tree in front of everyone. Ah, that's my girl.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whirlwind


This past month or so has been a fun, albeit busy one.  Do I even need to say that, though?  Aren't all of our months busy?  Anyway, we made a crazy dash down to St. George.  It all began with a decision reached at about 6:30 p.m. to leave at 8:30 p.m. rather than the following 8 a.m.  The theory was that all of the kids would of course sleep in the car the whole five hours and we would have the whole next day to explore and have fun.  Well, Atticus cooperated beautifully, sleeping the entire way, allowing us to drive straight without any stops.  Emerson and Stella, however, decided that sleeping in the car was only cool for about an hour and a half.  While Emerson simply stared blankly into the darkness surrounding the car, Stella decided to lead a revolt from the back seat of the van.  The steadily rising whine threatened to rouse Atticus, so I spent the last hour and a half of the drive literally in Stella's car seat with her on my lap, telling her stories.

But this did allow us a full day of fun the next day.  We headed out on the paved trail next to the Virgin River and counted 27 lizards in just over an hour.  We also discovered a wonderful free splash park in the middle of downtown St. George and proceeded to go there every day of our vacation.  The kids could splash, cool off, and burn off energy while we sat in the shade watching all of the fun.  We went for lots of walks, Tad did some good biking, I ran a little, and we caught up with some old friends, Dan and Angie and their adorable kids.  
While we wished our stay in St. George could have been longer, it was fun to come home and check on our garden.  We went a little crazy this year, relocating the garden to a sunnier spot and more than doubling its size.  Tad built an awesome redwood barrier around it to keep Crosby out and we planted lots of seeds: cabbage, cauliflower, watermelon, cucumber, beans, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and tomatoes.  So far everything has sprouted and we've even got little green tomatoes already!  The kids love to check it every day, closely inspecting the plants and making sure the ladybugs we released are keeping the aphids off.
Emerson finished his first soccer season on a positive note.  When he started soccer, he cared very little and didn't quite understand that the ball was his friend.  When the coach spoke, Emerson generally ignored everything, and sitting on the side meant grass wars with his buddies.  By the final game, however, Emerson was totally engaged -- kicking the ball several times, throwing it in bounds when asked, nearly scoring a goal, and cheering for his team even when he sat out.  His team even finally won a game!  But the true prize for Emerson was that he got a "real trophy," which he proudly displays on his shelf.
Stella has decided that singing in the car is her true passion.  No matter what song we listen to, she can sing along (or in a call and response style at least) at the top of her lungs.  Her personal favorites: Clash City Rockers (The Clash), These Days (Nico), and 1234 (Feist).  Life is an endless series of questions for Stella.  "Why did Maleficent make Aurora prick her finger?"  "Did Jesus have long hair?" "Is that guy being stupid?"  "Why are you wearing a ponytail?"  When I take her and Atticus running in the stroller, it's question time for Stella because she knows she can talk to me then entire time and I must answer.
Atticus is the jolliest little guy!  At three months he's smiling and laughing like crazy, grabbing toys and trying desperately to get them to his mouth, and nearly fitting his entire fist in his mouth.  He already wants to see everything Emerson and Stella do and thrills them when he smiles at them.  I've lost track of the number of rolls he's accumulated and he continues to adore nursing to the exclusion of bottles.
Tad was the recipient of one lucky birthday present this month.  He's been riding an old road bike to work since last fall and as he was riding it one day, a defense attorney he knows pulled up next to him in his car with a super fancy road bike on the back.  The next time Tad saw him, the defense attorney asked if Tad would like to buy his "old" road bike.  Tad responded that $3,500 for the three-year-old bike was completely impossible for him and the defense attorney said he'd let Tad have it for under $1,000.  So a few days later, Tad rode home on his new sweet ride at a final cost of only $750!  This has completely changed his biking life and he's now obsessed with riding the canyons around our valley (he's already done two).  Lucky guy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blessed





Here are some pics of Atticus and the two other babies blessed on the same day he was, Ruth Snow and Elana Mayer.  Oh, it's fun to have this little chubby guy around!  He coos and "talks" to us while smiling.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Roof!


When we moved into our house two years ago, we knew we eventually needed to replace the roof.  After two years of debating how to do it, trying to come up with the money, and dreading the expense, we finally got our roof redone last week.  And despite having to go all the way down to the rafters and put on new boards, the crew we hired did it in only a day and a half!  Sometimes it really helps to have a small house.  What's more, they did an awesome job, leaving us with a beautiful new roof with good venting and totally cleaning up after themselves (I only found a few nails after they left).  We also got our gutters done, which only took two hours total!  So, if you need referrals for roofers and gutter guys who are really good, reliable, and inexpensive, give me a call.
More importantly, we also had a lovely Easter weekend.  The kids did a really fun egg hunt with Grandma Baker's ward in the huge, beautiful yard behind a neighbor's home.  Everyone loved it, especially since they divide up the kids by age so no older kids get to hog all the eggs.  Emerson, it appears, is moving out of the simple belief in holiday characters stage.  At the egg hunt, a member of Grandma's ward was wearing a big, fuzzy Easter Bunny costume. When we said, "Look, Emerson, it's the Easter Bunny," he replied, "No, that's just some guy in a dumb suit."
  Later, he observed a zipper on the back of the imitation bunny's costume and said, "See, you can see it's a suit right there.  And look, he has shoes!"  Oh, dear.
We also blessed Atticus in our church on Easter Sunday.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and I take it as a miracle that we were able to all get decked out in our Easter finest and make it to church 15 minutes early!  Atticus was one of three babies being blessed that day -- I and two other friends of mine in our ward had babies within 19 hours of each other.  Since Atticus was the youngest, he was the last to go, but miraculously none of the three babies cried.
 Tad was able to convey some special words from our Heavenly Father in his blessing and it was truly a spiritual occasion.  We had so many friends and family come to the blessing and our little gathering afterwards and we want to thank all of them for sharing our special day.
Atticus continues to grow like he's in a contest.  By his two-month appointment last week, he weighed in at 13 lbs. 4 oz. -- after getting down to 7 lbs. 9 oz. in the hospital.  He generally sleeps pretty well and is truly a mild, smily guy most of the time.  He especially likes to smile at me at 4 a.m. when I'm trying to handle our feeding session in a businesslike, though bleary-eyed manner.  I can't resist him and each time I get sucked into a smiling conversation back and forth.  Magical!
Stella continues to love all things princess, particularly her Cinderella cell phone, on which she pretends to have long conversations with Dad, Uncle Tim, and others.  She truly is Tad's little girl, completely sharing his sense of humor.  She calls everyone silly names like "Duckhead."  The other day, she, Tad and Emerson were in the back yard doing some cleanup.  She crossed the yard to the sandbox and upon reaching it triumphantly pumped her arms up and down above her head while 
shouting, "Yes, yes, yes!  I didn't step in any dog poop!"  And she loves to push Emerson's buttons, deliberately messing up a word in a song just to get on his nerves.
Emerson is currently immersed in the worlds of Bionicles (Lego-made gladiator creatures that can be reconfigured several ways) and Magic Treehouse books.  No, he's not reading the books on his own.  We read to him after he reads the chapter headings.  He starts soccer next week and loves his uniform, number 11 on the maroon team.  He's excited to start Kindergarten but is starting to realize his preschool friends won't go there with him and his Grandma won't be there to check on him (both realizations frequently accompanied by tears).
That's the update for now!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Coconut




I can't believe Atticus is now more than five weeks old.  And yet it seems like he's always been a part of our family.  Emerson and Stella are such champs and love to be involved in bathing, changing, and even nursing him.  And it's a good thing they like the nursing thing because that is definitely what Atticus wants to do all day every day.  Which is why he's chubbing up quickly and why Emerson calls him the coconut (something small, round, and full of milk).  Unfortunately Atticus got his first cold this past week, so any semblance of routine he was developing is now gone.  But he remains pretty mellow despite his very stuffed up nose and consequent grunting piggie sounds.  He really seems to enjoy his sibs and loves being in the baby carrier awake or asleep.