Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Places that changed my mind.
Faces that changed my heart.
It is because of these people that my life will (hopefully) never be the same. Today I needed to be reminded.
(All are worthy of a post of their own, but after getting so wordy on the previous post, tonight you just get pictures. Maybe one day I will tell you their stories. They deserve to be told.) On a walk; Kumasi, Ghana; 2002

Children's hospital; Cape Coast, Ghana; 2002

Boys working to build LDS Chapel; Accra, Ghana; 2002

Burn victims in LUTH; Lagos, Nigeria; 2002

Playing with the kids; Masia Mara village in Kenya; 2002
My official welcome to the village; Masai Mara village in Kenya; 2002

Meeting with the Chief; Samburu village in Kenya; 2002

Loving me some orphans; Iasi, Romania; 2004
Visiting the new orphanage; La Paz, Bolivia; 2004

The orphan who never leaves my mind; Iasi, Romania; 2005
Anyone ready to go back with me?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. Everybody knows that."


Last night as when I climbed into bed it was long after my two boys had gone to sleep. I went in and checked on Baby G and then made my way under the covers next to my husband. As I waited for sleep to come my thoughts drifted back to the events that found me in this place, this place as wife to the man I dreamed of and mom to the baby I've wanted forever.

I first met the man that would become my husband when we were 15. We were at an Alta football game and I was wearing a blue puffy vest with khaki pants. He was tall, skinny, wore glasses, and made me laugh from go. I knew I liked him from the minute I talked to him.

Through high school we hung out with the same crowd and got to know one another. My first kiss belongs to one of his best friends. His first hand-hold belongs to one of mine. Even though I was dating someone else my mom recalls me coming home one night after being with all my friends and telling her all about this "friend." She says she knew from that moment on how much I cared about him and respected him. I remember that conversation going something like this:

Me: Mom, he is SO amazing. He goes home early on the weekends sometimes just so his mom won't be lonely! What boy does that?

Mom: He sounds really great. Do you like him?

Me: Yeah right mom. He likes fishing, not girls. I would never have a chance. The only reason he even hangs out with girls is because his guy friends are hanging out with us.

That pretty much sums up my sophomore and junior year with him. I had a secretcrush on him, dated all his friends, and hoped one day he would take me fishing.

At the end of our junior year we both got called to be on seminary council at our highschool. That was the catalyst for our friendship deepening. As we spent more time together doing stuff for council my secretcrush turned into secretlove. Certainly I wasn't in love, but I did develop a depth of love and respect for him that I hadn't ever felt before. The whole while I was sure he was oblivious to my feelings, and most definitely not reciprocating of them.

One day our senior year all the universities from around the state came to talk to the seniors about eligibility, admissions etc. We went around to the presentations together and talked about how it seemed too stressful to start planning to go to one of those universities so we started this inside joke about the Western Family College of Failures and Fishermen (WFCFF). I made applications for it, we filled them out, I applied to be the school mascot (a brown trout).

Long story short, one night I ended up at his house to deliver part of the WFCFF application (which for some reason included mini-bananas). We ended up getting into my car and talking. And talking, and talking, and talking. We finally ended up sort of confessing having feelings for one another, but mostly just in terms of respecting each other a whole lot. Apparently we talked for a long time about it because the next thing we knew his mom opened the front door all groggy and in her bathrobe and asked J if he had any idea what time it was and if he was with a girl named "L. T." Oops. It was 3:30 in the morning and my dad had been out searching for me (thinking I had been in a car accident because it was completely unlike me to be late and not let them know) and finally started calling around to my friends' houses.

Anyway, after J called and apologized to my mom, and after I got over feeling like I had ruined any chance I had with him by keeping him out all night long, our senior year continued and our feelings did, too. Once confessed, we swore secrecy because since we were both on seminary council we were not technically allowed to date each other. What a blessing that was! It made all the phone calls, emails, and little secret get-togethers so exciting and pure. We were just becoming best friends. We pretended like our friends hadn't noticed our secret. "Relationship? What relationship? Of course I don't like him like that!" Most (if not all) knew better.

We graduated and it took him exactly 3 days to kiss me the first time (and that was probably only because he was on a fishing trip). Oh! I still get butterflies thinking about that.

We dated all summer long and it really was like a dream to me. I couldn't believe that he would call me to hang out every day. We fell in love that summer, and then we had to move away to college.

He went north to Logan and I went south to Provo. I thought that would be the end of my fairytale. I thought that we would surely grow apart living so far from each other. What I didn't know is that distance doesn't stop two people in love, especially if they are 18 and irresponsible. We talked on the phone daily. We saw each other every weekend. We said we were dating other people too, but I'm pretty sure we can count the number of dates we went on with others on one hand. I think it is safe to say that the distance actually made us closer, made us realize really how much we wanted to spend every moment together.

He was turning 19 in June and going to be leaving to serve a mission for 2 years. I knew that was coming so I was really looking forward to the 2 month gap in between us both coming home from college and him leaving. We were going to have the best 2 months together.

Instead I moved to Hawaii to go to school for those 2 months. I didn't want to. I hated leaving him, knowing that when I got back we would have only days left together. But I knew I had to go. I had received an undeniable answer that Hawaii was the place for me, that I needed to start the separation between us before he actually left so that he could be as prepared for his mission as the Lord needed him to be. I think I cried the entire flight across the ocean.

Hawaii's beaches soothed my soul and I learned to love it there. That doesn't mean that there weren't tearful phone conversations (my roommates can vouch for that one), but it didn't take me too long to realize that I had absolutely made the correct decision. Still, it hurt because I could feel J slowly pulling away from me. I could sense a shift in our relationship. I was not going to go home to the same boyfriend I left-- he was being prepared to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and I knew things would be different.

I read "The Princess Bride" while I lived in Hawaii and wrote down two passages from it in my journal at the time. They were about undying love and I remember thinking that I hoped to be able to say them to J one day.

He and his parents flew out to Hawaii the last week I was there and we were able to go on the vacation of a lifetime together. I remember walking around some boat docks with his hand in mine and someone saying, "You two must be newlyweds! You still have that dreamy look about you." I remember wishing so bad that that was true, knowing that really, it could be the beginning of the end.

When he left on his mission he did so completely unattached. We were, in no uncertain terms, free to live the lives we needed to without each other in them. He wanted me to date with my whole heart, even give it to someone else if it was right. I wanted him to focus his mind 100% on the work he was doing, even if it meant tucking away thoughts of me for two years. Those were hard decisions, and I have to give most of the credit for the maturity of our relationship to him. He has always been wise beyond his years.

The two years went by rather quickly. I spent 8 of those 24 months in Romania. Letter writing was more frequent in the beginning, but by the end it had tapered off considerably. His parents forwarded his emails, and I devoured them, hungry for a portion of his spirit. Not a night went by that I didn't pray for him and pray that he would somehow know of my love. But he was there, and I was here. I dated a lot. I dated two people quite seriously. I dated one person VERY seriously. There was a marriage proposal on the table for the taking. In the back of my mind though, I knew I had to at least see, at least give it a chance with J. I couldn't make any decisions until he was home from Brazil and I had at least given it a shot.

Wow, he was weird when he got home. It really was incredibly awkward. Don't ask me what I was thinking when I decided to take his mom up on her invitation to go to Yellowstone with him and his whole family 3 days after he had gotten home. Seriously, why did I do that to him? Why did I do that to myself? There was one highlight on the trip (though if you have heard the story of it I am certain you wouldn't actually call it a highlight) that gave me a glimmer of hope that he still loved me but would just take a little more time to get there.

As soon as he did get there though, things happened quickly. He had come home on July 6th, we were engaged the last Wednesday in August, and got married 3 years ago today, November 18th.

Last night I was remembering how 3 years prior at that very moment I was laying in bed next to my cousin talking to her about how that was my last night to go to bed a single woman-- the next day I was going to be the bride of the man I had hoped to have for 6 years.

At our wedding brunch I came prepared with my journal from 2 1/2 years prior. I opened it to the page where I had scribbled down the quotes from "The Princess Bride" and I stood and read them to my new husband. This is what I said:

“I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love you so much more now than when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, of if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do.” (Buttercup to Westly)

“I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids.” (Westly to Buttercup)

I remember feeling the depth of those words that day-- truly I had lived my life with the prayer that one day this man would look at me, and had spent years where he was my last thought before bed and my first thought in the morning. And there I stood, looking at this man, knowing that I had just been bound to him, and him to me, for all eternity. I would never wonder about our love again.

I am so grateful to say that 3 years later those words are even truer. Today I love him more than I did on our wedding day that there cannot be comparison. He has given me all I ever wanted in this life, and my happiness is so wound up in him and in the family life we have created together. I pray for years and years more of him.

The title of this post is also from "The Princess Bride" in case you didn't know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

fall '08 a little late

In an attepmt to completely overwhelm you all with photos I am going to go ahead and lump all of our fallish adventures into one large, over-sharing post. Please enjoy.
The fun began when we headed up the canyon to do some colored leaf collecting from these trees: The trees really were almost fluorescent. Baby G got his exercise as he tried to negotiate running (sort of) up the hillside through weeds taller than him on uneven ground (read: he fell a lot).
Oh the fallishness! We are only sort of bad parents for letting our child wander around outside in October with his shoes off-- we had a pretty mild fall.And this is where our fall adventures blow yours completely out of the water. Sure you went up the canyon and saw the leaves, too. But did you catch a glimpse of this as you wandered around?I didn't think so. Yes, that is what you think it is-- a grown man in a knight costume having a professional photo shoot up in the woods. Totally normal. Yes, I did laugh about this the entire way down the canyon. And also yes, I still pull it out on occasion when I need a good chuckle.

Our pumpkin adventures started where most of yours did. Baby G took his time at the pumpkin patch selecting the perfect one.This is where we are most likely a little different. Probably most of you didn't make your small children push the wheelbarrow full of pumpkins. Probably most of you let the small children ride in the wheelbarrow with the pumpkins. Not us. In our family we subscribe to the theory that the purpose of having children in the first place is so that they can do all the heavy lifting.
This is us doing the same thing as millions of other families around the world-- carving the pumpkins.But once carved, was your child completely OBSESSED with the removable stem lids and did he spend hours taking one lid off and switching it with another? Our child did. If I needed some time to get something done I just stuck him out on the porch with the pumpkins.He was likewise obsessed with the fire inside the pumpkins and went from one pumpkin to another "lighting" it. This is his first costume-- The Fancy Cowboy, complete with a sequined belt buckle and cow print chaps with fringe.And then he'd bend down and get his face as close as he could to the flames. And instead of running to protect my child I just stood there and took pictures of it.
Trunk-or-treat (I hate that phrase) with the aunties, Lucy and Alice.

Another adventure found Baby G in the classroom with me watching a Halloween movie with all the students. The kids that have a hard time sitting still on the rug get the option of "pockets (meaning they can stay on the rug on their pockets)
or chair." Baby G chose "chair."
The cousins found it necessary to swap head attire. I like to refer to them as "pumpboys." Get it?
For trick-or-treating on Halloween night we got to bust out the much anticipated costume that we have had since before Baby G was even born. I was only a few months pregnant when my mom insisted that we buy the baby a Santa suit to wear for Halloween one year in the future. Well friends, this was the year. And it was quite the hit. When Baby G would go to the door to see the trick-or-treaters all the kids would laugh.

Still obsessed with the fire.

The best part of Baby G's Santa costume BY FAR? His patent leather black shoes. Nothing says "Santa" quite like a pair of shiney shoes.

Baby G worked hard for all this candy but he only got to enjoy a little of it. Another parenting theory we subscribe to: any candy your kids get on Halloween automatically becomes yours.

But we did let him have a little, so it was necessary that he brush his teeth. Of course he had Halloween jammies. Do you know my mother?
(Please forgive the poor quality on the last few photos. My lovely husband went fishing earlier that Halloween day and took the camera. I was only a little upset when, upon returning home to join us for the evening festivities, he realized he had left the camera in his fishing partner's car. We made do with the video camera so those photos are snapshots from the video footage of the night).

Still not ready for full on winter, but it's coming whether I like it or not.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

anatomy of a date

Do you want to know what a perfect Friday night date looks like to me?

I'll show you.

It starts with my two favorite people. (And yes, we pretty much always take Baby G with us on our dates. We like him.) We go somewhere fun but not too pricey, like The Aquarium. Baby G and J are both pleased about all of the fish to view.
They are likewise pleased about the rays to pet (mostly Baby G was just pleased about the water to splash around in).
After more than our fair share of fun at the children's playland in The Aquarium we leave to get some food. But first we stop at the bank because being married means that it is okay (desirable even) to run errands while on dates-- it's called multi-tasking. While at the bank I peruse our "Enjoy the City" coupon book to find a place to go eat (another marriage perk? Coupons for dinner are completely allowed). J decides that it would be awesome to send the teller back some coupons for "Big Daddy's Pizza" in the little tube. We wrestle over the coupon book because I think that is embarrassing. We laugh and look ridiculous and the teller asks us if we are okay. J unhooks my fingers from the coupon book, rips 2 coupons out and sends them on their merry way to the bank teller. We drive away laughing our heads off. Hopefully she likes pizza from "Big Daddy." I'm still chuckling about it. Dinner at Chipotle.
Still can't get enough of the veggie burrito.
Dessert at Yogurt Stop because we had another coupon there (that's how we roll).
I adore this picture because Baby G is holding his "Twos" and that just makes me happy. In case you didn't read my last post, he calls anything like pencils, pens, scissors, spoons etc. a "two" because he wants two of them-- one in each hand.
After dessert we head home. Since it is a little past Baby G's bedtime he is more than ready to be asleep and isn't really patient about getting his diaper changed and pjs on. He just wants to be in the rocking chair going to sleep.
He is looking at the camera with the tired eyes of a baby thinking, "Daddy, please take the camera and leave so that Mama can put me to sleep." I also must note his "Gaygie." That is his blankie and he is in love with it. He will go get it when he is tired and bring it to me so that I will take him to bed. It is so endearing to me how much he loves going to bed when he is tired.
After a few minutes he looks like this and I turn on his heater, shut the door and leave. (As a sidenote: sometimes it amazes me that this little person just goes to sleep in this big dark room all alone and I shut the door and leave him there by himself all night long. Does anyone else think thoughts like that?)
At this time (it is about 8:00 PM) I go out to the living room where J greets me with a kiss and we are free to engage in whatever activities we choose for the rest of the night. (I'm not going there, are you?) It is like two dates for the price of one-- one with the baby and one with just my husband and me.
I'm telling you, this is the life.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

i heart boys

I always wanted a baby boy first. I think that came from having an older brother-- I wanted all of my children to have one, too. Also, being a tomboy myself, I wanted the influence of boyish things (dirt, rocks, sticks, sports) on my other children more than the influence of girlish things (dress-ups, pink, barbies). Don't misunderstand-- I love little girl things, and I hope so much that one day I will get to spend my afternoons having tea parties in pink dresses with a little girl and her dolls. But for my firstborn? I wanted a boy.

And I got one. Oh boy, did I.

Baby G has me convinced more than ever that there are innate gender traits born with a baby boy (and I am sure the same is true for girls-- despite my love of sports, I have been a "mother-er" from the time I could talk, and oh how I loved my little baby doll Jemima). I remember a former boyfriend once telling me that as long as he had some dirt and sticks he could play outside by himself for hours. I didn't think much of it, in fact, I kind of thought he was exaggerating to make his point that little boys love that stuff. Now that I have a boy I know that he was being completely sincere. There is something inside of this little person that wants all things boy: tools, rocks, sticks, dirt, woodchips, weapons-- it is the stuff dreams are made of.

We can't go into a room without him pointing up to the blinds and asking for the long wand you twist to open/close them with. Did you know what a perfect sword that makes? We cannot walk to the park without him picking up a stick and then stopping to swipe at every stray leaf in our path with it. If he sees a pen or pencil he immediately says "Two!" because he wants two, one in each hand, to use as tools for getting to objects out of his reach. I could literally leave him in our backyard for hours. It is one big dirt pile, and for him it is heaven. I frequently find him walking into the shed to retrieve some of his daddy's tools and then he immediately gets to work hammering anything he can find. He even tries to use a screwdriver on little holes he finds. Tennis rackets are among his favorite tools because have you heard how loudly they can bang or seen how many things you can knock over at a time with one? And his cowboy boots? The only article(s) of clothing he has ever requested himself (and he brings them to me saying "Boots?" quite regularly). If he is getting tired of being in his carseat when we are driving I have a secret stash of rocks in the front seat that I can hand back to him. I can't even say the word "pole" without him frantically looking around for his fishing pole, and he is especially happy if he gets a fishing pole in each hand.

Little boys are pure delight. Here are some pictures of Baby G being all boy:

If I would've known about all this sooner I surely wouldn't have
decorated with long sticks-- how can I expect him to leave them alone?
Pretty much all of the ones in the front are now broken.
Cowboy boots? Check. Two fishing poles? Check. The only thing missing?A cowboy hat. Now the look is complete.
He sat here by the water (another favorite thing) for half an hour just throwing
rocks in and watching them make a spash.
Fishing with his daddy-- a dream come true. Nevermind that
his feet were dangling in the FREEZING cold water, unbeknownst to his father.
I told you about the tennis rackets.
About to whack something...(don't those little shorts just kill you?)
Using a stick to hit a tree = the best part of his day.

Just doing some yardwork like his dad. He adores sweeping with this long broom (also, the boots).
Notice the cowboy boots with pajamas. It is a regular occurance.
Also notice the long metal hanging rod in his hand-- a fantastic swiping tool.

Daddies working in the backyard with little boys sitting in the dirt watching.
If J starts mowing the lawn without Baby G he starts crying and gets his feelings hurt.
He really thinks his help is indispensible (I'm not kidding. I don't remember the last time J
was allowed to mow without Baby G strapped to him).
For some reason it seems more okay to throw little boys this high than it would little girls.
Boyish things of note: the hammer in his left hand, the buzzed hair (his daddy cuts it), and using his right hand to get rocks out of the dirt to practice hammering on.
Even things as innocent as cheese dogs can be turned into tools/weapons (not to mention messes).

Now that I've illustrated some of the little treasures about being mom to a little boy, let me share with you my very favorite thing about having a boy. I read this on Cjane's blog and it so perfectly describes how I feel:
"I am more convinced of my personal theory about having sons. A boy needs to be constantly in love. If he can't be in love with his mother, he'll find someone or something else to captivate his admiration...Of course I am finding out that the other part of my theory is that the mother falls just as hard for her son."
My heart feels like bursting when I look down into my little boys eyes and feel of that love. I am his mama and he is in love with ME.
Mamas and their boys.
There is nothing like it.