Sunday, July 23, 2017

Oh, Fresno.

Michael:
went to our Stake Pioneer Day party with us on Saturday and that was a lot of fun. Breakfast, blow up slides, live music, a photo booth, popcorn and snow cones and cotton candy, booth games, etc. Our kids have been waking up at 5:15-5:30 all week which is... the worst. And the party started at 8:00 on Saturday morning, so we decided to go to the store before and pick up new tires for the kids' bike trailer. While we were there I said, "Never have I had to kill time before an 8 a.m. Saturday church activity. What has life become." He fixed up the bike trailer and we're ready for rides again! On Saturday Michael was putting Westin down for a nap, and Westin kept asking for more books. Michael was falling asleep reading to him and I kept nudging him awake. Then Westin said, "Can I sleep in the living room instead?" and Michael said he could lay on our rug for 10 seconds and then nap time. So Michael counted, "Ten, Nine, Eight... " and then I figured he was counting the rest in his head. But then I looked over and he was out. After 10 seconds I said, "Michael -- he needs to go take his nap now." He acted startled and said, "Oh.. did I get to 1?" No, Michael. Seven. You got to seven. He literally fell asleep in three seconds, while counting those three seconds. #residentlife
But also, #michael.

Maddie:
had an emotional week. One of my best friends from BYU lives here in Fresno with us and she is unexpectedly moving to Southern California in just a few weeks. My whole day was teary after finding that out and I just keep coming back to thinking about that since I found out her news. I'm happy for her family and excited for their big changes, but I am so incredibly sad to not live close to her anymore. My other good friend here is moving to Utah around the same time. Fresno is starting to feel a lot more lonely. I also put too much thought into "make it through the first year" of residency, and now that we're on the other side of that and things are still almost just as busy, I feel like I kind of lost a lot of physical and emotional energy. I just need to focus on good things and get out of this rough patch. Honestly, this week felt so sad and I'm happy it's over.

Westin:
told me to "clean up your tears, please" pretty often this week, and really wants to go to playgrounds lately no matter how hot it is outside. I was a mess Thursday after finding out my friend is moving, but he wanted to go play so bad. I was kind of envious at how resilient and positive and happy kids can be if we just give them the simplest things in life. I just need to be happy with him. We ended up going to the playground in a sorry state and I was glad he got us out of the house. He loved helping out with Bennett's doctor appointment on Friday. And honestly, he was a huge help when Bennett ate a band-aid off his tiny finger and no one noticed but Westin.. whoops. Good job, big brother. His early, early mornings are a struggle right now. And screen time turns him instantly grumpy so I think I need to completely cut it out of his life. You guys. I am not that strong.

Bennett:
had his 9-month check up and is growing like a champ. He has "slimmed down" to the 75th percentile for weight at 22 pounds 10 oz., but those are my doctor's words and not mine. His height is still 95th percentile and his head size is 99th. For further evidence of this, see his attempts to crawl in the video at the end of this post. It's a lot of work for him to be in charge of getting all that cuteness to move. He has been eating a lot lately, more than Westin. Westin used to eat more than me at almost every meal -- for sure breakfast and lunch, sometimes even dinner too. But now he has slowed down a ton, and Bennett usually finishes his food. I already have fears about their teenage years and the subsequent grocery shopping and cooking. But I also love, love, love watching them start to "wrestle" and roll around together and laugh and laugh. That is only going to get better and better as these sweet brothers grow.

Saturday morning at our Stake party celebrating Pioneer Day. These boys love cotton candy.

The top picture of Bennett kills me.

Westin loved going inside a fire truck, and hung out around it the entire time it was at the party. When it drove away he chased it for as long as he could keep up.

The crossed ankles. The lines for wrists. Those thighs.

Friday night at the park watching tiny football players. Someday he'll be mad at me when he learns he's not allowed to play that sport...

He loves "snugging a daddy shirt" these days. 
Home gym.

We met friends for lunch and Westin was so excited to get there the same time as a garbage man, and watch them unload all the dumpsters in a parking lot. They always honk and wave when they see their little fan, and it's so sweet.

My helper at Bennett's 9-month check up.



Pet store trip. No purchases were made.

Westin keeps talking about this "skinny pig" that he got to pet. It was so nice of the employee there to take out the guinea pig and introduce us.

Another daddy shirt.

I had to wake him up from his nap one day after 3.5 hours. So sweet.

We are struggling to know what to do in this summer heat, guys. Pinterest for the win here.

My errand buddies. I love them so much.

Bennett learning to crawl... such a positive attitude despite the face plants! Sweet boy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Games

My family was always split when it came to games growing up. My sister and my dad loved them as much as I did, but we could rarely get my mom or brother in on a card game. It's still that way for most games, though my brother is up for Wits and Wagers now and you will always get a round of Scrabble from my mom.

My sister was the one who taught me poker. Except, she didn't know how to play. And we were about 6 and 10. She just told me to go get some of my stuff, explained the process of betting, then we just kind of jumped into it. She'd look at her hand, look at mine, tell me I didn't win, then deal us again. I wasn't a big fan of poker.

We had a Brain Warp phase in the Miner house for a while. Though, we always got creeped out by the "Wanna warp again?" voice that would come out of no where when the game had been idle for 5 minutes. I can still hear that perfectly in my mind.

My dad came up with a churchy version of Scattergories we played on Sundays. There were so many laughs when 25 Words or Less came out for Family Home Evening. Ali and I always used inside jokes to full advantage during that game and it felt like borderline cheating. Then there was the "I Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog" moment, or the time I learned that an elk wasn't actually just a big deer. We never had a boring round of 25 Words or Less.

Games are still my favorite thing to do when family is together. Michael can only handle a couple rounds of Speed with me before the competition in the air gets to be too much for him. Even when he wins, the stress of it all makes it not worth it in his book. Here's to hoping we've produced game lovers of our own. Right now Westin is stuck on "I Spy" and I'm ready to branch out. But, it does boost your confidence when you play with him. He always says, "Yeah, that's what it is!" on your very first guess.


---
This post is part of my 8-minute memoir series, following the prompts from author Ann Dee Ellis. You can read more about the project here. This series is an effort to keep writing in my routine, keep a record of life, and keep my spirits high. 

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Water Week

Michael:
had some more time at home than usual this week because of some training that didn't take his full day, and that was great. He met us at Chick-fil-A on Tuesday where were were dressed as cows for free food. I lent him my ears and spots so he could get in on that, too. Then later that night we all went to 7-Eleven for free slurpie day. We drove around after while waiting for the BYU 50 box to drop somewhere in Fresno, but we didn't win. Next year! He also was a first-time-pro at surfing this week when we went out boating with some residency friends. He did such a good job! And being out on the water with friends was so much fun. We keep talking about it. He also started a new calling at church today as the finance clerk in our ward, and I think he'll really like that.

Maddie:
was not as naturally talented in the surfing department, but I loved trying! I thought it was so much fun. Summer has me in a funk because I do not know how people live in 110 degree weather. Well, they live in their pool probably, but swimming with a toddler and a baby doesn't exactly sound like making life easier to me. I can do that once a week, but then I'm back to searching for indoor fun and dreaming of fall. I put my kids to bed at 6:30 tonight before sitting down to write this, so that tells you how my Sunday afternoon has felt. Michael had to leave for a work thing after we got home from church, and no-nap Westin is very different from the Westin I have fun hanging out with. So, the week started fine, moved to a fun-filled middle, and ended super grumpy. Soo... tomorrow's a new day. And Tuesday is $0.59 pancake stacks at IHOP. Apparently free and cheap food is what gives structure to my weeks? Feeling classy.

Westin:
liked riding on the boat with friends this week but was freaked out about swimming in the water. He has recently become super scared of water touching his face, out of no where. But then he saw the tube and was all about "riding the donut!" so he went on it with Michael and me. We fell in pretty quick on our first go and he seemed pretty traumatized, but after forcing him into a second try he started loving it after that. He also really liked watching dad surf, and he liked dressing up as a cow for his kids meal at Chick-fil-A. He kept mooing while he was in line and that was the highlight of the experience for me. He's also recently become obsessed with chocolate milk and I'm grateful for an excuse to make it way more than normal these days. He also went to a "day camp" two mornings this week that a girl in my ward put together. He loved it so much -- gathering eggs from their chickens, sprinkler time, visiting her grandparents that he's obsessed with from church, and playing with friends. I think this kid might be ready for preschool earlier than I have been planning on. We'll see.

Bennett:
needs to sleep through the night... he's so big. And almost 10 months. It's time. But I cannot let that little person cry. He's such an angel, and rarely sad, so the thought of just letting him cry breaks my heart. He didn't even make a peep on our boat ride, not even when we put a life jacket on him or held him for a couple hours past his bedtime. Didn't cry a single tear when all three of us left him with friends to get on the tube, or when he watched us tumble into the water. The kid is just happy. He has a doctor's appointment this week, so it's always fun to get the official weigh-in on that boy. Such a chubby guy, and I love him.

I don't know why they eat their toes, but I love it.

Angel.

Saturday with my boys. I feel more outnumbered around here the older these boys get, but I feel lucky they are mine!

He loves reading "The Boat Book" (illustrated Book of Mormon with Nephi's boat on the cover) and the Friend book (Friend Magazine) when Bennett takes his morning nap. It's the longest he'll lay with us on the couch so it's usually my favorite time of day with him.

We love playing with Finley Jo!

These three ate dinner in complete silence for the first few minutes while staring at each other. It was hilariously awkward.

Splash pad time! Survival in Fresno.



Sometimes he watches TV like a teenager and I feel amused and sad.


Sleeping babies have my heart.


Millerton Lake is just about 20 minutes from our house. Michael's coworker took a few residents and families out on his family's boat and it was so nice of him. We had a blast.

This was Michael's first time surfing behind a boat and he was a pro!

Family tubing adventure. The first go did not end well. But by the second run, Westin was really into "riding on the donut".


Free slurpie day!

Annnnd free Chick-fil-A day on the same day. 





Friday, July 14, 2017

Little Things

"Soak this stage up. They'll be grown before you know it." Such a well-meaning piece of advice, typically given in the moments when people assume (probably correctly so) that you are so over tiny-person caregiving. Grocery store tantrums, anyone?

My first instinct is to be a little bit annoyed [I know they will grow quickly, I know, but does that mean I have to soak up every detail of this public meltdown?], but outside of those moments, I really do think on this. They'll be grown before I know it. I can tell it's true by the way my parents talk about me. I was their tiny person. And now they are already watching me raise mine. 

Before Westin was born I printed a sign for his nursery that says, "Enjoy the little things." I knew I wanted to focus on that while raising him, but I had no idea how prominent that framed quote would be in my life. The rocking chair across the room from those words held countless hours of story reading, nursing, rocking to sleep. And I'd read the phrase repeatedly and think, "These are the little things. They are now."

Stories, hugs, night feedings -- I know I'll think back on those. But there are also the little things that are only mine to know. Like the way Westin is frustrated if you fill up his water bottle before he is finished drinking all of it. The way he will always say "You got it!" on your very first guess when you play I Spy with him. Or how he wants you to keep his shirt on around his head each night when he's changing into pajamas, so he can pretend he's a puppy with sleeves for ears. These are his little things. And once I forget them, they're gone. They're already changing so quickly, and sometimes gradually enough that they're lost without notice. 

I have moments when I become overly melancholy thinking about these little boys, and how they are my whole life right now but the end goal is for them to not need me anymore and find their own whole life. Those times are when I really am surprised at the power of those four framed words on Westin's wall. 

Enjoy the little things. Even if the little things are insignificant to the world, or eventually forgotten by me too -- it doesn't take away from how lucky and lovely all of this is right now.


---
This post is part of my 8-minute memoir series, following the prompts from author Ann Dee Ellis. You can read more about the project here. This series is an effort to keep writing in my routine, keep a record of life, and keep my spirits high. 

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Adventure

When I was two years old I tagged along with my dad to visit a scout camp. He says he lifted me onto a big pile of plowed snow, and I looked around with my hands on my hips and said, "Just what I've always wanted. Real adventure."

Fast-forward to my breakfast meeting at Denny's with Kindal. We had an offer to intern together for the summer in Juneau, and it was imperative that we included a stack of pancakes in our decision making. This was a big deal. I had just spent my freshman year at BYU and Provo turned out to be the last place I wanted to spend my summer. Kindal had been at SUU that year and needed to explore outside of Cedar. We wanted an adventure, and we wanted it together.

So we decided to go. Suddenly we were (and I hated to admit this because of my red rock loyalty) in possibly the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. And it was quickly obvious that we had found what we were looking for, plus more.

We hiked. Saw bears. Kayaked. Spent a few nights in a small cabin outside of town on the shore, where we were literally woken up by the sound of whales breathing. Chopped wood. Ziplined. Watched every existing episode of The Office. Explored ice caves. Stayed up until 3 a.m. just because we'd forget the days didn't get dark until then, so nothing stopped our talks and laughing. Ran races. Broke into hotel gyms so Kindal could steal treadmill time and keep her running scholarship. Ate a lot of halibut. Played with husky puppies training for sled races. Painted. Watched whales. Swam by a glacier. Said no to drugs. Drove around town ditching trash in random dumpsters since we didn't pay for pick up. Met nice girls. Met mean girls. Met boys. Played music. Brought each other Costco churros to work. Went to parties. Drove a Pathfinder. Made new friends. Solidified being forever friends.

And sold stuff. Stuff that changed color in the sun.

Sure, the bus driver guys teased us that our job was called an "internship". And yeah, Del Sol isn't the most impressive line on my resume. And we definitely got sick of that color-changing demo.

But that summer changed us, and I'll stand by that trite sentence with everything in me. We found adventure and we learned about ourselves. Most importantly, Juneau just left us wanting more. And we both went on to find it.



---
This post is part of my 8-minute memoir series, following the prompts from author Ann Dee Ellis. You can read more about the project here. This series is an effort to keep writing in my routine, keep a record of my life, and keep my spirits high. 

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Billboards

I had the distinct thought as we crossed into Tennessee that I was thinking more on this part of our cross-country drive than usual. I mean, the fact that I thought about thinking is proof of just that.

Then I noticed it. There were no billboards along this freeway. Nothing but the green of the trees, the blue of the sky, the cars and pavement. No bright distractions, larger than life food photos, or invitations to "take the next exit and turn left" when all I really need to do is go straight.

Once I realized the simple source of the notable difference in my drive, I got distracted thinking about distractions. Being mindful today takes so much effort. Magazine covers and candy bar choices stealing even the smallest moment of potential pause. Pop-up ads always... well, popping up. So many unanticipated contenders for our focus at any given moment.

I'm raising babies in a new kind of chaos, and I want to fight to keep their world simple. They deserve space at home and in their mind to explore who they are. They deserve to navigate life without "billboards" whenever possible. We all deserve that. It's just a matter of figuring out how and focusing on why.

Because more often than not, all we really need to do is go straight.


Happy 4th!

Michael:
showed me pictures this week of an ear he stitched back together, and a head wound he stitched as well. The before and afters were so crazy to me. He is learning so much. As of July he has started a new Plastics rotation. I just asked him about his week and he said, "I don't know... there were a lot of boobs. And open wounds." So, there's that. He's been busy with a bunch of online trainings he has to do for work. They're life support simulations of taking care of patients, and when the monitors beep or things get bad I feel stressed out, which tells you that I seriously could not do what Michael does. During one of the simulations this morning he said over some beeping "Pretty sure this patient is going to die... The next video I have to watch is called coping with death." My degree in Communications feels worlds apart from his medical life. He was on call Saturday and it was his worst/busiest call day yet. His stories are all so crazy and some are such sad situations that bum me out. And also make me want to keep my boys home 24/7. But then some patients get hurt at home too, so it all just leaves me like.... [hands up - shoulder shrug] -- that was me not knowing how to write without emojis anymore, which brings me to...

Maddie:
started writing a new post series this week. When I make myself write more I am significantly happier. It's just good for me, and I'm excited about doing it more beyond these weekly spotlight posts. I got a babysitter for my boys Saturday morning and went to the temple with a friend. I need to get babysitters more. Temple time, dates, High classes... I need more of these things in my life. I loved keeping the boys up on the Fourth of July and showing them fireworks at the Fresno Grizzlies baseball game. We went with James and Jamie and their cute little Finley. That's the first thing we've done in downtown Fresno as a family. I kept thinking we were going to get shot. This is because Michael sees most everyone who gets shot in downtown Fresno. Like I said, residency may make me a cautious homebody. I had my first migraine in over a year on Friday and it was so awful. I don't get any headaches at all when I'm pregnant, or in my first few months of nursing. But after that, it's back to a few headaches a month and a few migraines a year. They are killer and I'm so sad they're back. Poor Westin had a miserable day because of it. After rounds and rounds of extra strength Excedrin I was wide awake until 3am that night, but worth it to have the migraine gone!

Westin:
makes me laugh and cry. Toddlers! He has developed a super angry side and I don't know how to parent it. Mostly directed at his toys...but, sometimes me. Still, when he's yelling at his Legos for not cooperating or yelling at me for not letting him watch a show, it makes me equally grumpy. He also has a super sweet side though and I know toddlers are just learning to experience and manage a whole spectrum of emotions. He swallowed a little felt ball this week and it was weird/scary/hilarious/sad/mostly weird. He hasn't put something in his mouth in ages but suddenly he called for me after he went to bed one night, I went in, and right then he choked a little then swallowed hard and I knew immediately what he'd done. He was so sad and just kept asking where it was. Crazy kid. He's over the heat as much as I am. I told him, "Let's go out back and water daddy's plants, bud" and he said, "No, I'm staying inside. It's too hot to water plants." It really is too hot to water plants. But that's when you have to water plants the most. Oh, Fresno.

Bennett:
has a new little front tooth, and the other one seems close behind. It made for one sad night, but that's really all. He hit 9 months this week, so stranger danger is supposedly on its way but he hasn't shown any signs yet. He gets super sad when you leave the room and don't take him, but he loves attention from anyone still. I gave him a sippy cup for the first time today and he instantly loved it and went to town. His kisses are my favorite thing. He's in 12-month clothes and they make him look like a little man and it really makes me sad. He fell asleep on Michael at church today and it melted my heart when I saw them. He rarely cries before taking a nap, doesn't cry when I have to keep him awake a little too long, and it blew my mind that he fell asleep on Michael at church. I just remember feeling so much stress in my life when it came to Westin and his naps. I think Bennett is different, and I've changed some too, and the combination has resulted in just SO much less stress when it comes to sleeping and routines for this sweet second baby. I love watching him interact more and more with Westin. He just laughs and acts thrilled with any attention his brother sends his way, positive or negative. Oh Bennett, I'm obsessed with you. Your straight-line smile gives me such peace.
So much joy in this chubby body.

Making brownies! 

Sippy cup natural, this kid needs water on our hot summer days so this made me happy.


He was just laughing, laughing at Kitty. He gets so happy when he sees her.

More Kitty time. He figured out if he pulled the blanket over then he could reach her, and he was sooo proud of this discovery. Then she gave him his first swat, and he just laughed at that, too.

"Turn your head, baby Bennett! Say cheese!"
Sometimes we make chocolate chip pancakes for dinner when dad doesn't come home. Gotta cheer ourselves up sometimes.

Michael went to the library after work to study, and I knew this was going to happen... so I gave him 30 minutes of napping past when he said he would leave, then I texted him to wake him up. This made me laugh.

"Mom, come see my garbage men!" I love Westin's Lego creations. And on Wednesdays he has to run outside holding one of these garbage men every time the garbage man drives down our street. Which is six times, when you count all three types of trash cans and both sides of the street. It's his favorite day of the week.

So proud of himself after catching his cat. But then she ran away.

Baseball time! It felt very appropriate to be there on the Fourth of July. Westin loved dancing to the music and just smothering his dad, as he usually does when dad is around. Dads are the best.

Not the most successful family Fourth of July selfie, but it's the best we got.

Stealing dad's seat when he was off getting us tacos at the game. For like, an hour. #tacotuesdayprobs

I got out our 12-month clothes for Bennett and this sweater Westin lived in had a binky in the pocket. So appropriate, you guys. He was always packing. Man, I feel like he just barely wore these clothes.

Mid-sneeze, nailed it.


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