Friday, May 29, 2009

Long-Gone Locks!

Caroline has been pestering me for some time to cut her hair for the summer. So today, I caved. I loved her long, pretty hair and had so much fun fixing it and braiding it. But as Jake put it today, "it looks like she's always had it that way - it fits her." So I guess that's that! She loves it and was so good and still while I trimmed away this morning.

Before (just look at those long gorgeous locks!):

The "ponytail":

The cut - YIKES!

Examining Mom's work:

A little silliness (gosh, what I wouldn't give for lashes like that!):

A new do, an old ponytail and a little sass (I'm not sure where she learned the kissy face from...):

There is a good 6 1/2 inches in that ponytail and it would've easily been 8 1/2 except I wanted to give myself a cushion in case I needed to even things up, which I did. I can't believe her hair was so long, and now it's gone! At least it will grow! And it looks so nice & even now. But it's taking me some getting used to. Everytime I come around the corner or catch her out of the corner of my eye, it throws me off for a second and I have to remind myself that we cut it off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Muddy Buddies

While outside working in the yard this evening, Caroline turned on the water and proceeded to "help" water the weeds and what little grass we have in our backyard. It was mostly in one general area and we ended up with a mud puddle. Clayton had been running around shirtless because: a) he made a mess on his shirt at dinner and it was removed and, b) it was pretty warm outside. Partway through our work, I realized we had some funk going on in his diaper and after changing it, opted not to put his pants back on. Hence the diaper & boots look he's sporting. At this point, he and Caroline decided that a mud puddle in the backyard is not to be wasted, so they proceeded to jump in it.
They were having a ball until I heard a pitiful "Ma-MA!!!" from Clayton. There he was, one boot stuck fast in the brown goop. Caroline so helpfully pulled him free - well, his stocking foot that is. The boot stayed put.
After getting his boot loose and back on his foot, the kids proceeded to have a mud slinging fest. Clayton got the brunt of it. I'm sure his aim will improve and Caroline will recieve payback someday!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Precious Angel Girl

Caroline is such a sweet, tender big sister. Granted, there are times when she & Clayton don't get along and it causes their mother stress. But then, minutes later our precious girl does something that melts our hearts and brings lumps to our throats. Today was no exception. After some heated debate between Caroline & Clayton over whose stick horse belonged to whom (Caroline wanted Clayton's because she claimed that his was a GIRL and she needed a GIRL horse!), Clayton went down for his nap. Well, fell asleep in the middle of lunch is more the truth, but whatever. So, after laying him on his bed, I asked Caroline to use the potty, find her comfort blankie and a book for me to read to her and meet me on my bed - our usual meeting place for naptime where we read and sing and snuggle and finally sleep. She was taking a bit longer than I thought she should to complete the task at hand, so I went in search of her. I could hear quiet sounds in the kids room, so I went to see what she was up to. After searching for her blankie and unsuccesfully finding it, she noticed her sleeping brother on his bed, with his quilt underneath him. Worried that he would get cold during his nap, she covered him with her own quilt. I couldn't help but scoop her up, give her a big hug and cover her with kisses, all while fighting back the tears over how thoughtful and sweet she was.

This evening, after putting the kids to bed, Clayton stood by the bedroom door and cried. He's had a difficult time going to sleep in his own bed the last few nights, and I think the thunderstorm the night before caused him a little anxiety. But after having to hold him until he goes to sleep for the last 3 or 4 nights, I'm afraid to get stuck in that rut with a new baby on the way, so we figured he could "cry it out." (I HATE doing that, but...) With Jake in the house, I decided to run some eggs over to our students in the bunkhouse. On the way home, I took a little peek into the children's room through the window. I didn't expect to see Caroline sitting next to Clayton on his bed, stroking his little face and back, soothing and comforting him. Then I watched her "read" him a book and finally, snuggle down next to him underneath his quilt.

I don't think words can describe the love I have for my sweet Caroline and the thoughtfulness and love that she demonstrates for her brother in quiet moments like that, and I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who shared such a precious, adorable, sweetheart of an angel and trusted us as her parents enough to send her to us.

Sweet Snuggly Boy

Last night, both kids were afraid of a thunderstorm at bedtime. Jake & I decided each of us would take a child and hold and snuggle them until they fell asleep. Clayton was soon snoring, but each time I tried to move away from him to leave the room, he'd sleepily say, "mom, momma", and reach his little arm around my neck or wherever he could get it and hang on quite snugly. As uncomfortable as my position was, I can't deny loving the feeling of those chubby little hands around me and hearing that sweet little voice. Especially since he wants his daddy for the majority of the day!

Clayton loves his little cousin, Sophie. He plays with her when she comes over while her mama goes running, and covers her in kisses and hugs. She likes her personal space and often pushes him away, but that doesn't deter him.
I'm so grateful to be the mother of such a precious, happy little boy. He shows love in so many ways and is always eager to help. His little smile is so contagious and I'm so glad he's a member of our eternal family!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Interview With Caroline

My sister-in-law just did this with my 4 1/2 year old niece and posted it on her blog. It was a hoot to read, so I thought I'd try it with Love Bug. I think I'll do this every so often just to see how her answers evolve with her age.

1. What is something mom always says to you? Come help me.
2. What makes mom happy? Riding ponies.
3. What makes mom sad? Crying.
4. How does your mom make you laugh? By going, “boo!”
5. What was your mom like as a child? You liked magazines.
6. How old is your mom? Sixteen
7. How tall is your mom? Uh, short.
8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV? Uhhhhhhhh, horse movies.
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Work on stuff.
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Being naughty. (uh oh.)
11. What is your mom really good at? Playing games!
12. What is your mom not very good at? Uhhhhhhhhhhh, petting dogs. (?)
13. What does your mom do for her job? Caroline: “Play games.” Me: “I play games for my job???” Caroline: Yes! With Me!!! (It's obvious what we do for a good chunk of the day!)
14. What is your mom's favorite food? Corn on the cob! (it’s been on sale 5 for $1.00 this week. We’ve had lots of it.)
15. What makes you proud of your mom? Cooking dinner. (Probably since I feel like doing it so rarely these days...)
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Shrug. I don’t know. A car from the Cars movie.
17. What do you and your mom do together? Go to the store.
18. How are you and your mom the same? Dark hair. (Well, hers IS darkening some.)
19. How are you and your mom different? By immersion. When I’m 8 then I will. (We’ve been talking about baptism by immersion since that’s the theme in Primary - our church's children's organization -this month. She knows I’ve been baptized and she hasn’t yet.)
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Giving hugs and giving kisses.
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? That he reads books.
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? To the restaurant. (So cooking isn’t high on my list of things I love to do right now. Blame it on the pregnancy!)

Caroline "clogging". Since I did a little demonstration recently, it's all she & Clayton want to do. So we turn on the music & dance! Video to come later...

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Helpful almost-2-year-olds:

"Blueberry" the male in a pair of bluebirds that nest outside the kids' bedroom window in our birdhouse:

I have this obnoxious thing where I get a crazy sense of satisfaction out of creating a meal solely from things I have made from scratch and also raised on our farm. Lunch today: Egg Salad from an egg fresh from our henhouse, on homemade bread with tender lettuce shoots I had after thinning the seedlings I started. On the side, a garlicky dill pickle I canned last summer. YUM!

Monday, May 18, 2009

So cute!

Been super busy, but just had to post this adorable picture of our little "Love Bug" and her daddy going to feed the lambs on Sunday afternoon. We got home from church and Caroline changed from her dress to her "butterfly pants" with butterflies appliqued on the front. She decided that her butterfly wings - courtesy of Mona & Papa for Christmas - were a perfect match. Only when she was perfectly dressed in her butterfly getup and boots was she ready to go feed those hungry little lambs. And sweet daddy was so patient while she got dolled up. The lambs - not so much. But they survived the wait.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Hubby's 30!

So, this post is also a day late. Actually two, since we celebrated Jake's birthday on Saturday night even though his birthday was yesterday. We had a laid back get together with all the Nebraska Butlers, eating Bratwurst (YUMMY!) German Potato Salad (Grandma Redd's amazing recipe) and fresh corn on the cob! I made copy-cat "Ding-dongs" cupcakes - and found I need to practice that recipe a bit. Caroline was so excited for "Daddy's birthday!" She picked out the perfect gift for him - red vines, and proceeded to tell him everyday for a week that she couldn't wait for him to open his licorice so he could share it with her. The day before his birthday, she gave him the rundown on all his gifts. Needless to say, opening presents wasn't much of a surprise for him!
The "kiddie table" enjoying their corn on the cob!
The birthday boy was too fast for me to get a picture while huffing & puffing to blow out the candle.
Sophie enjoying her daddy's cupcake.
Jake and some of his loot: A John Wayne mug from his folks, a 4lb. container of red vines from Caroline, a new plaid shirt from Pete & Sarah & a framed, matted print of "The Prayer at Valley Forge" from me. Not pictured, a "Jake the Farrier" doll and accessories from the Breyer Horse catalog. That was from Clayton. More for Clayton, since he's been playing farrier with it, shoeing his little Breyer horses since Saturday night. But I couldn't resist a "Jake the Farrier" doll. I mean, come on, what are the odds??? Happy Birthday, honey! I hope you enjoyed your day. We love you so much!

"Mom" Upside Down Spells "Wow"!

I know I'm a day late, but I've been pondering on some things this last week:

I love this photo. It is a sweet reminder of two of the biggest blessings in my life.

The first, on the right, is my angel mother. Words can't describe or express the love I have for her and the depth of my gratitude for all she has done for me. She gave me roots in the soil of the gospel and taught me to stand firm and steadfast in what I know is right. She then set me free with wings to fly and experience life, always there when I needed support and help - because who doesn't always need their mother??? There are few conversations I've had with her in my lifetime when she has not in some way likened the scriptures, teachings of the prophets and values & virtues that we hold dear to our lives. How thankful I am for her example of striving to apply those sacred truths to our daily experiences. She is loving and kind, but not afraid to stand up for what is right and good. My children recognize that in her and there are few days that Caroline doesn't mention in some way how much she loves and misses her "Mona". She finds such joy in motherhood, and I remember her once talking about a woman from church who referred to her kids as "little monsters". My sweet mom replied that hers were always jewels. That has always stuck with me. Recently I read this quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of our church:

"How much more beautiful would the world and the society in which we live if... every mother regarded her children as the jewels of her life, as gifts from the God of heaven, who is their Eternal Father, and brought them up with true affection in the widsdom and admonition of the Lord."

It brought tears to my eyes as I read it, because it described my mother so completely and perfectly. Mom, I love you so much!

The second, on the left, is my dear Mother-in-Law. What an amazing lady! Without her, I wouldn't have the incredible husband I do. Not only did she bring him into this world (2 days before Mother's Day, no less! What a gift for her!!!) I believe much is owed to her for Jake's thoughtfulness, consideration, love and respect for me and our children. I count myself incredibly blessed to live near her and get to see her on almost a daily basis. She is such an example to me of selfless service and love. Sundays, she sits with me and the children and is a support to us as Jake sits on the stand to fulfill his calling as a leader in our church. On so many occasions, she has come to my house for dinner and gone out of her way to help me wash dishes and tidy up. She offers to watch the kids so Jake and I can have much needed date nights. They love her and Caroline often gets upset when she doesn't get to spend as much time with Grandma as she'd like (usually when it's been a nice, lengthy visit already and one of them needs to go home!) She reminded me this year that the word "Mom" when turned upside down, spells "Wow". You've been a wonderful mother to me as well and I am proud to call you "Mom", too! I love you so much!

Without Jake and these two (almost 3!) sweet angels, I wouldn't be a mother. Jake served me breakfast in bed the first Mother's Day after we were married, before any of our children were even twinkles in our eyes, and has honored me in some sweet way each year since. But honestly, with all he does to help and support me, each day is like Mother's Day! And despite daily messes, tantrums and challenges that come with small children, I wouldn't trade being a mom and staying at home with our precious Caroline & Clayton for anything in the world. The little things bring me so much happiness - watching them master a new skill or learn a new word (Caroline picked up a small object today and without being prompted, correctly said "Mom, look at this cube!) feeling chubby hands around the back of my neck in a sweet, sticky hug, being the recipient of countless dandelion bouquets and feeling the gentle (okay, sometimes not so much) nudges of new life in my belly. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has entrusted us as women with the divine role of mothers. I pray I can be the kind of mother he would have me be and the kind of mother both my mother & mother-in-law have been inspiring examples of.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Farm Livin' is the Life for Me!

We recently acquired a team of Belgians that are trained to pull a wagon. Their names are Jim & Jake, and they are very gentle. Caroline & Clayton have loved getting up close & personal with them in the barn. However, they've had a bit of a break from pulling anything on a regular basis, so Pete, Jake & Dad have been working with them. Today, for the first time, we got to hop in the wagon for a little ride around the ranch. It was awesome!

As of yesterday morning, we also have added two bummer lambs to our menagerie. Bummer lambs are babies that have lost or been removed from their mothers (ewes) for some reason or another. 2 years ago, our lambs were part of a set of quadruplets born to a ewe on our Neighbor Dave's farm. She didn't have enough teats to nurse them all, so we took over, raised them and ate them (YUM!) Neighbor Dave called a week or so ago to let us know that he thought he'd have some more bummers this year, if we were interested. Heck yes! I'm not sure how these two new ones came to be motherless, but one is 3-4 weeks old and the other is 3-4 days old. Caroline has named them Blackie and Spots. Clayton has taken over the feeding & care of Spots (Blackie terrified him for the first few feeds, but has gotten over it.) Caroline, I think, would love a chance to take care of Spots, but Clayton won't have it. Blackie is just big enough and aggressive enough that it's a bit of a trick for a 3 1/2 year old to hang onto the bottle long enough to get the lamb fed. But we're practicing. They're cute little things and fun to have around. But Caroline knows what they're for and has told more than one person, "When the lambies grow up, then they'll die. And then we'll eat them." Ah, the circle of ranch life! On our way home from feeding this evening, Caroline was singing "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" and Clayton was singing/dancing along. It was pretty cute!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice... NOT what we're getting this time around! But we're pretty excited for another little cowboy! He sure wasn't shy about letting us know he was a boy, either. Very obvious. AND he's a little chunk. These pictures don't show it, but he has little dimples in his hands and elbows already. Dr. won't let me go past 39 weeks because he's afraid this munchkin will be HUGE like Clayton was. From the looks of things, I think he's right! He's also a wiggly little thing, and right in the middle of the ultrasound, he flipped himself right over and around. I think that's why the Doc couldn't find a heartbeat at fourteen weeks - he just moved so much and so fast it was hard to pinpoint him. Last month, the doctor had to chase him around my belly with the dopplar. It was actually pretty entertaining.

This was Caroline's honest to goodness reaction when we told her she was getting another brother. It was so classic. I said "You're getting a!" She gasped in a happy way, and then her little face fell and we got this scowl. She's been telling us for months that there was a baby sister in there named Isabella. She even had me convinced.

But she's warmed up a little more to the idea now that she's seen the ultrasound pictures. But then, he's such a cutie, who couldn't love him already?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Caroline's First Dance Recital

Saturday evening was Caroline's first dance recital. At rehearsal that morning, she was pretty nervous and just stood there during both her tap and ballet dances. But at the actual recital, with her hair done and makeup on, she transformed into a little performer. Sortof. She did a fantastic job in her tap number - she was so cute! During her ballet dance, they had ribbons as props. Half of the girls played with the ribbons throughout the dance, neglecting the actual steps. Caroline was no exception. A couple of times, she was actually flicking her ribbon at the other girls (we wondered if she was trying to rope them.) However, she did remember to arabesque! After her performances were done, she was allowed to sit with us to watch the remainder of the very LONG show, and wait for the finale. She enjoyed sitting with her cousins and liked watching the "big girls" dance. She was tickled pink to receive the wrapped flower - a gift for our ballerina from Mama & Daddy. But she was a little put out that she wasn't awarded a trophy (only the 2nd year girls and up were recipients of those!)

We sat in front, thinking we'd have a great seat. Turns out there was a bunch of technical equipment right at the edge of the stage, blocking our view of Caroline's dancing feet during the tap number. Oh well.

I learned from one of the back stage helpers that during costume changes between dances, Caroline found the makeup bag I stashed in her dance bag. She grabbed the blush and was applying it not only to her own face, but was playing "makeup artist" on all her little friends in her class. They said it was interesting to fanagle the brush & compact out of her hands so they could get her ready to go onstage.

Watching the "big girls" dance.

Caroline with her certificate and flowers. (Like I said, she was a bit unhappy that it wasn't a trophy.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day

This is the quote on my perpetual calendar for May 1st:

"The world's favorite season is spring.

All things seem possible in May."

-Edwin Way Teale

This is what we saw out our window this morning:
Yeah. I guess all things are possible in May. (Last year, we had a snowstorm on May 10, Jake's birthday. Yay Nebraska!)