Catching up...

This blog is a hot mess! I've obviously put it on the back-burner or taken it completely off the stove all together. Like I've said a million times before, I LOVE my blog books. So here I am again trying to recommit myself to making time to blog. I need a new camera. For the past year I've only used my phone to take pictures. I bet if I had a real camera then I'd blog more. I dunno, maybe not.
Anyway, here is a look at us BEATING THE LATE-WINTER BLUES in 2012.
 We LOVE Larks! It's the most fabulous toy store tucked away in the middle of nowhere. It carries so many toys, costumes & silly hats, games, books, art supplies- ANYthing and EVERYthing related to fun & games for adults and kids alike. Besides seeing all the "vintage" toys (the ones I played with as a kid), my favorite part of Lark Toys is the beautiful and amazing hand-carved wooden carousel. Lark Toys is a favorite and provides the perfect little day trip.
Raking the grass 
 Dave has taken great pride in our lawn. It was absolutley awful when we moved in and Dave spent lots of time to nurse it to health. Needless to say, after the little snow that we got melted, the grass looked horrible again. So Tol and Dave raked it. And raked it. Then raked it some more. Not sure what else they did to resurrect it, but by the time Spring roled around it looked mighty fine, once again.
Swimming in the Winter
 Gotta love the Ramada swimming pool, complete with a slide and a little kiddie pool. Perfect addition to the cold and loooong Minnesota Winters.
Sassy Addi
 My 'all-girl' Addison playing in mom's scarves and jewelry.
Dog Walkers
 Tol and Grace went through a phase of taking the neighborhood dogs for a walk. Here they are with Bella & Howie. Tol LOVES dogs! So much so that we just might have to get one for him.
"Theodore's" Birthday
 Did you know Dr. Seuss' real name is Theodore? I didn't either until Addi learned that at school. We celebrated his birthday by reading lots and lots of his books, coloring Dr. Seuss pictures and doing Dr. Seuss worksheets.


Tolman's Baptism

The announcement: 

The program:

Tolman got baptized and what a special thing it was for our family, but especially for Tolman. I don't think there is anything more spiritual than a baptism.Witnessing someone making the first step to return to live with their Father in Heaven is pretty amazing, especially when it's your own little boy. 
I'm so proud of Tol and the decision he made to be baptized. He is such a kind and caring little guy who is so sensitive to others needs and I am so grateful to have him in our family and for the example he is to all of us. 
 The ONLY picture I took that day.

 Addison, Hannah and Caroline looking darling in their matching dresses.
*pic compliments of Jess

We were super lucky to have Grandpa Ron, Grandma Shar and Auntie Jess fly in and for their participation in the service. It made it extra special to have them here and so nice to feel their support. It really meant a lot to Tolman.

What an amazing boy he is.
I couldn't be more proud of my Tolman and can't help but feel like the luckiest mama in the world! Congratulations, Tol!


My very most favorite "Pin"

So I have recently joined the Pinterest craze! I'm LOVING it and am bummed that it took so long for me to jump on the band wagon. Because of Pinterest I'm cooking more (okay, mostly baking), crafting more and I even found the best chore system for my kids that they're actually excited about! What can I say, I'm hooked!

But I have to say that my very most favorite thing I have come across on Pinterest is this story. When I read it the first time I bawled my eyes out. And the second, third and fourth. I absolutely LOVE this.
I love it because I grew up with a mom who really stressed the importance of loving, accepting and being kind to everyone. She was one who, at Parent/Teacher Conferences, was more concerned about how my siblings and I treated the other kids than how fast we could read or how well we did our times tables. Sure, those things were important, really important, but playing with or eating lunch with an 'underdog' was more important. I am so grateful for a mom who instilled that certain kind of compassion in me. 
I hope it resonates with you like it did me.

Dear [Chase],
Hey, baby.
Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.
Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.
And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.
I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.
Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.
We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.
Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
I love you so much that my heart might explode.
Enjoy and cherish your gifts.
And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.


*To be linked to this website click here


Quarry Hill

Learning about and examining bugs and tiny little fish at Tolman's annual Quarry Hill field trip.
The kids LOVE Quarry Hill!


Silly Smile Boy broke his first board in Tai Kwan Do.
Way to go, Tol!

Post Christmas Utah

On our way home from Arizona we stopped in UT for about a week. Except Dave, he stayed for only a day and a half because he had to get back to work.
The kids and I packed in as many things and as many people as we could in that short time. I didn't get many pictures, but here are the ones I did get. 

 Addi and Grammy were SO SO excited to see eachother!

Addi painted Uncle Curt's nails with the polish she got for Christmas.
Curt is such a darling Uncle!

 Popping popcorn with their brand new popcorn popper!

New Years Snacks on a napkin compliments of our, um...waiter, Matt {Tol}.
homemade caramel popcorn. salted popcorn. baby carrots. Cake Bites {Sweet Tooth Fairy}
 I started a puzzle and Cindy and Dad stayed up WAAAAY late til it was completed.

 I worked for a few days in Kristen's salon. Dana is definitely one of my hippest clients {and friends}

 Dinner with friends at Cheesecake Factory

We Love Utah!


Dear Ben

This has been quite the whirlwind of a week. Your long-anticipated arrival came early and, as it's not completely ideal, we couldn't be more thrilled.
I am so in love with you already. We have spent so much one-on-one time together and it has been a gift. I've loved every moment.
You came around 5 weeks early (still not 100% sure about the timing) to everyone's surprise. Your brother and sister were "term babies" so having my water break at only 35ish weeks was shocking.
The night before you were born was a warm and rainy Wednesday night. Daddy was gone on OB call at the hospital. I had worked doing hair a lot of that day and the day before and was tired and not feeling great. Mommy and Addi ran errands while Tolman was at scouts. When we got home and were settled with both kids in bed, I watched Big Brother (BEST. season. EVER!), cleaned up and did laundry. I kind of left everything half-done with the intent of finishing the next day because I had nothing going on- or so I thought. You had different plans.
It was 5 am the next morning, September 13th, when I woke to what I thought was me peeing the bed. I was SO MAD and discouraged! Seriously- peeing the bed?! I got up, went to the bathroom to finish emptying my bladder and as I was washing my hands I realized that I wasn't peeing and that my water broke. At first, it was a huge relief then I felt excited then came the feeling of, "OH NO!"
What was I going to do? Daddy wasn't home and it was too early to call a friend or neighbor, but I did it anyway. I first called Carolyn Hanson, whose husband Jeff is in the same program as Daddy, with hopes that Jeff would know how to reach Dad somehow. No answer. I called Joleen Reed. No answer. I called Becky Wooten. No answer. I decided to just try Daddy on his cell phone thinking there was no way he'd answer. Miraculously, he answered!! I told him what was happening and he told me that he'd talk to his consultant and call me back. As I waited for Daddy to call back I called Grammy Shar to tell her you were on your way. She was so excited and later said that I sounded super in shock; I was! Dad called back and the first thing he said was, "are you sure you didn't just pee?" I told him I was sure and he said that he'd be on his way.
Meanwhile, I washed my face, brushed my teeth and got Tolman and Addison up so they could get dressed and ready. Carolyn had called back and agreed to meet us at the hospital to pick up the kids and take them back to her house.
Daddy got home about 15 minutes later, gave me a blessing of peace and comfort, I grabbed (of all things) my make-up bag (and nothing else) and we were off.
On the way to the hospital I started to panic thinking of all the things that weren't ready. The carseat wasn't ready, the house was a mess, we didn't have a single diaper in the house, I was going to color my hair that morning and get a pedicure the next morning. All these things!! How was this going to work?! Daddy reassured me that he'd be able to buy what we needed and that it is most important that you had a loving family and warm house to come home to.  He was exactly right but what he was saying didn't really sink in.
We got to the hospital, did the kid trade-off with Carolyn and, in what seemed like no time at all, I was laying in the hospital bed with my IV in.

The Anesthesia team came in (the team that Dad had just left) and prepped me for my epidural. Daddy's consultant allowed him to administer my epidural and, luckily for me (and him), did a great job. I thankfully didn't feel any pain. Emily Sharp, who is also an Anesthesia resident whose hair I cut the day before and who coincidentally happened to be on OB, was the one who held my hand. She was rather surprised to see me there that morning since I had seen her just 12 or so hours before.
Besides a panic episode (after the neonatal team came in to talk to us about possible complications involved with having a pre-term baby), the laboring process was fast and pretty uneventful. Around 9:40 am I was feeling quite a bit of pressure so the midwife checked me and sure enough I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push. I was wheeled down the hall to another room, the midwife and nurses got things set up and when they were ready for me to push, I only had to once or twice and at 9:54 am my little 5 pound 6 ounce, 18.5 inches of perfection was born!!

 Daddy cut the cord and the neonatal team took you to the adjoining room. Your first APGAR score was an 8 and the second was a 9. You were doing great so they bundled you and brought you out to me. Words can't express the feelings I felt as I held you for the first time. I was instantly smitten. You were absolutely perfect and you were mine. I felt like the luckiest person in the world and was overwhelmed with love for my new little bundle.
After a little while, they took me to my room and about an hour later the nurses brought you into see me on your way to your room.

You had to stay in the Special Care Nursery because you were pre-term and needed a little extra care. It was sad not being able to share a room with you, but I spent every moment I could with you in your room.
*I was able to watch you from the TV in my room*

Your room was such a special place with a very neat spirit. At first I wasn't able to hold or take care of you when I wanted. I didn't even change your diaper until you were 2 days old. I sat on the sidelines while I watched the nurses do everything. In a way I was grateful as it seemed super intimidating to take care of someone so small and fragile. You were tiny! In fact, I'd pass the regular nursery on my way to a your room from mine and the babies in there seemed so big! When Addison passed the regular nursery the first time she said, "WHOA! Those babies are giant!" You were just a tiny little peanut.

 *Daddy brought Tolman and Addison to the hospital later that day to meet their new brother*
 *Your brother and sister love you so much!*

After a couple days I got more comfortable holding you and was able to kind of take charge. I changed your diapers and was involved in the decisions. I was only in the hospital for 2 days and you had to stay for a week. Because you had a hard time eating on your own, you had an IV for a few days and a feeding tube for 6.
 *the machine that administered your food through the feeding tube*

 *as I was attempting to nurse you one night you yanked out your feeding tube!*

 *hearing screening*

 *After your IV was removed you got to have your very first bath at 3 days old!*

 *I walked in to see this one morning. Could you be any more adorable?*

Nursing took some work but eventually you got it down and were able to go home! It was hard on the family having you in the hospital because I was at the hospital almost all the time. I even slept there a couple nights with you. We had a lot of help from great friends that I will be forever grateful! It was such a blessing, for so many reasons, to finally have you home.

 *dressed and ready to go*

 *You're so tiny in your car seat*

You've been here for only a short time but have already blessed this home and family with your amazing spirit. There is something about having a newborn in the home that brings an added feeling of love and peace. None of us can get enough of you. We find so much joy in watching your funny and sweet facial expressions, listening to your silly squeaky, grunting or growling sounds and even just watching you sleep. We are mesmerized by you and can't imagine life without you; you have filled a void that we didn't even know was there.
Love you, my sweet Ben!