Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa Claus

Saturday night we went to SLC to visit with Jared and Lynnsey, ate at one of our favorite restaurants and took the kids to Discovery Gateway. Last visit to Discovery we opted to buy a family annual membership - and I couldn't be happier. Every time we go we find something new and exciting that we haven't seen before. There are toys in an area specifically designed for kids 18 months and younger for Gavin. And, Autumn just loves it all!
Santa was at Discovery . . . straight from the North Pole with a $13 picture that suckers like me just can't resist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gavin's Smiles

Future Cheerleader

Autumn: "Mommy, can I be a cheerleader when I grow up?"
Mommy: "Sure, honey."
Autumn: "Ah, thank you, Mommy."

I love that in her mind right now, I can make all things happen.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"I'm just taking a quick bath, Mommy"

Every parent knows that when it gets too quiet for too long, you better go find your kids! In Grand Junction, Grandma and Grandpa Peterson have a big house where grandkids can get into plenty of trouble. I was just getting out of the shower when I found Autumn taking matters into her own hands. She said her hair was "funky" and that she was just taking a quick bath.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Polar Express

Last year we started an annual tradition of riding Heber Creeper's Polar Express train to pick up Santa from the North Pole. This year was even more magical for Autumn than last . . . aided by the fact that she watched the movie Polar Express for the first time the night before our big adventure. She was almost as excited to talk to the Conductor as she was to visit with the elves and Mrs. Claus and even Santa himself. Of course, we were able to enjoy hot chocolate and one of Mrs. Claus' magic cookies while singing carols and listening to the elves tell us Christmas-related jokes - all while we traveled to the North Pole.
To be honest . . . this is a somewhat pricey tradition (for those interested) . . . but, the look on Autumn's face when she sees Santa, bundling up in our warmest pajamas, sipping hot chocolate and singing songs is worth every penny.

Santa is waiting at the North Pole for the kids to see out the window. This is Autumn catching her first glimpse of the big man himself. He then boards the train and takes a moment to visit with each child and gives them a special present . . . a silver bell to remind them to always "believe."

"Smile for the Camera"

So, I have a nice camera, I love to take pictures, and I have what I consider to be excellent-looking subjects. Here's the issue . . . that flash has snapped in Autumn's little face at least 10,000 times or more in her young life (I wonder if I should look into the long-term effects of flash photography on a growing mind). I view all the pictures on Rachel's site of her beautiful little girls, hair curled, posed perfectly . . . and I get these crazy notions in my head that perhaps I, too, can create those same memories on film with my children!
And, not that I would ever complain . . . but, I thought it was only fair to share what I am working with . . .
Autumn refuses to have her hair fixed (she rips it out of her head immediately on the rare occassion that I am able to slip in a bow or rubber band), she is obsessed with her binkie, and tickles herself silly with her "camera smiles."
Rachel . . . count your blessings :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

October Snowman

These photos don't have the same impact now since snow is covering the mountains and it is already late December. But, once you realize that this frosty masterpiece was created back in October during an early snow . . . it takes on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy Halloween

Late proof that we did - indeed - dress up. We attended the children's event at the local college where Autumn decorated cookies and played games, the annual TGN Christmas party (that furthered Autumn's thinking that when Mommy goes to "work" that it really is just a big party) and the famous ward "Trunk or Treat." Halloween is definitely popular around the Peterson household!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Girls/Family Night Out

In typical Karen/Peterson family fashion . . . what was intended to be a girls' night out turned into both a girls' night and family night out. Jeff didn't want to miss out on the Outback Steakhouse fun either . . . so, he and Autumn met Johnny and Karin for dinner while I sat with the girls. Of course, who would have imagined that both tables would be right next to each other? Autumn couldn't resist the urge to spend at least part of the dinner at the girl table and part of dinner with Daddy! Gavin hung out at the girl table and managed to use my jacket sleeve as a napkin (he was eating peas and carrots). Amidst the chaos, I heard bits and pieces of the conversation, took Autumn to the bathroom twice, and fed Gavin (with Amber's help). Johnny actually took this picture for us after dinner and right before our shopping spree at the mall. Jeff and the kids visited with the Murphys while I got my annual mall fix. Seriously . . . it's been at least that long. If something is not available at either Target or Costco . . . I don't get it. After walking around the mall for an hour or so, I found myself thinking that many of the new trends were just not style (I mean, what's the purpose of wearing a belt on the outside of your shirt!?) . . . and then I stopped . . . isn't this the trap that many moms fall into?? I cannot allow myself to become an unfashionable, outdated mother!! I have committed myself to survey a fashion magazine now and then and to buy myself an article or two of clothes more than once a year. Let's face it . . . I'm not the greatest shopper . . . it's just so much more fun buying for the kids!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How far we've come . . .

I cannot explain the feelings that I get when I look back at these pictures of Gavin during his first days . . . an opening in his back, an IV in his head, and cords and tubes surrounding a helpless little body surrounded by a confused and devastated family. But, with consistent therapy and a lot of prayers, his legs have relaxed and he is sitting up on his own. This feat has a new meaning to us as every milestone is both a challenge and a miracle.
I just recently printed out these pictures and placed them in Gavin's room. The are not there to remind us of those sad and tragic times . . . they are there to give us hope . . . as proof of how far we've come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


When people hear our daughter's name, they inevitably ask, "Was she born in the fall?" And I always laugh a little when I tell them that she was born in February. And, there are lots of reasons why she was given that name . . . because when I was just a few months pregnant and proposing name after name on an exhaustive list . . . it was the first name that gave me a little shiver. It was the first name that I feared a negative response from Jeff and immediately felt so relieved and excited when he said he liked it. And, because I adore Autumn . . . even before Autumn became our Autumn.
At this time of year, I get a little thrill from just stepping outside. The crispness and chill in the air urges me to stop for a deep inhale everytime, no matter how late I am. The canyon is alive and I seem to notice a small waterfall or bridge that I've never noticed before - even though I tend to be less than observant. At this time of year, I feel the kind of excitement I get when I am especially missing Jeff and I count the minutes until he arrives, check my reflection more than once and dab on some lip gloss with good intentions.
I am so lucky in life to still get butterflies over a man that I knew I would like by just seeing his picture, to feel giddy when seasons change and leaves turn colors, and to know that day after day and year after year those feelings will not change. Some people 'stop to smell the roses' (I actually make this a rule), some people get into the Christmas spirit (me, too), and some find various hobbies to enjoy . . . but, it seems that too many people view all of this as a distraction along their road. Our lives move by us with every turn of the clock . . . and I, too, sometimes let this happen. So, I thank Autumn for being the moment in the cycle of nature that slows me down to look around. I live for picking out a pumpkin, cheering for my favorite football team, for a drive in the mountains, for a warm sweatshirt, and for snuggling with my family by the fire. Looking at our Autumn incites these same feelings with new memories created everyday.
We are so lucky to have Autumn . . . and all the emotions that signify her name . . . in our lives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Picnic and "Girl" Cheese

Life seems to run smoother and I seem to accomplish more with my job when Jeff is home with me and the kids during the week. I'm sure it sounds counterproductive, but to have them there in the house with me while I work seems to help me focus. I can be diligent at work knowing that I will take a lunch break with my very favorite people (Autumn says I'm her "best friend" - and I feel the same . . . although I have heard her make the same claim to Jeff . . . hmmmmm). It seemed like a perfect Fall day for grilled cheese and "pink" soup (aka tomato soup).
Autumn was playing outside while I made lunch. When Jeff came out to join her, she ran up to him and was so excited.
This is what she said . . . "Daddy, daddy, we're going to have a pic-a-nic. Mommy's making me a "girl" cheese sandwich. Are you going to have a boy cheese sandwich"?
It's little moments like this when I wish I could hold Autumn so tight that I could save the words she says, the raw excitement in her eyes, her innocent mistakes and everything about her forever. Sitting under her playset at her tiny picnic table with the whole family, eating "girl" cheese and pink soup, picking out the red trees on the mountains . . . there is absolutely nothing better in life. This is what I live for.

Discovery Gateway

Over the weekend, we decided to take the family to Salt Lake City so that the adults could play at the Apple Store and Autumn and Gavin could play at Discovery Gateway. I wasn't even aware of the place until my friend, Becky, took her kids a few weeks ago. It is so cool . . . from a miniature grocery store to a play house and science experiments to a mini studio where you can make your own mini movie or pretend like you are a news anchor . . . amazing. Autumn loved it. For the part that Gavin was awake, he was pretty mesmerized by the zillion kids running around and all the colors to see.

One of Autumn's favorite parts was seeing Robbie, the Robot. Once he came into the room, we said hello, gave him "five", took a picture . . . and then quietly and sweetly stalked him until he went back to his Robot home to eat lunch and take a nap (well . . . that's what we told her in a futile attempt to convince her it was lunchtime/naptime for everyone).

After the Discovery Gateway, we walked to Ztejas, a favorite restaurant in SLC. Jeff and I highly recommend the mac 'n cheese with chicken and the chicken stack . . . yummmmmmy. It was rainy and cold at an outdoor mall . . . but, it was such a fun day with the family.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall Pictures of the Family

I just want to whet your appetite for the beautiful fall pictures that we just had taken over the weekend. As always, the preparation part (and the fact that it was stormy and really windy all day) almost caused us to postpone the photo session. Luckily, Sherry and Jory headed up the canyon and we all decided to give the pictures a try. Sherry did an amazing job, as always . . . and we couldn't be happier. These are just a few of the pictures I pulled from her site . . . there are many, many more to come. I can't wait to blow them up and put new family photos on the wall that include little Gavin.

Gavin loves to stick his little tongue out. It's his favorite new thing!!

I know I'm biased . . . but, I think Autumn is beautiful. Just wait for the other pictures!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Camping at Fish Lake with the Family

The days before our trip were pretty stressful for me at work. We almost had to cancel the trip and then had to delay our departure so that I could finish some projects. The beauty (and stress) of Fish Lake is that there is no cell phone coverage (and therefore no access to email) for miles around. We went down with our friends, Aaron and Becky, and their 2 kids and young baby. Jeff and Aaron got to ride their dirt bikes on the trails (they are like giddy little boys STILL about those bikes) and Becky and I even got in a really awesome ride on the ATVs up and down a mountain and over and through a river. It seemed like it took at least half a day before I could actually relax . . . but, after all of the packing and driving was done, I remembered why I've always loved camping.

Little Gavin was an angel as always during the days. He'd hang out in the swing and watch the other kids run around, play with his toys and generally stay as cute and cozy as possible. He wasn't lacking for attention between looking so adorable and having so many people around!

Autumn is fearless when it comes to climbing, jumping, riding her bike or 4-wheeler. We borrowed this one from Corbin (since he and Breeanna have graduated to the gas-powered versions) so that Autumn wouldn't feel left out. She didn't hesitate to drive full-force down and up the hills, smiling and squealing the whole time. Jeff and I told her that when she put all her pee pee in the potty that we'd buy her one just like it . . . and, of course, her response was what has become her very favorite word . . . "Why?"
*Even when we are reading at night, at the end of every page she says, "why?" I used to go into detail about explaining every page. Now, I've learned to just keep reading.*

Autumn loved to walk down from our campsite and pet the horses. They were the friendliest horses and colts around and a good chance for us to teach Autumn how mothers protect their babies. We asked the horse to stand in for Jeff since he was taking the picture.

So, this was my first time ever staying in a trailer. I don't think I'd even really walked into one in the past - especially not one like this. The Hickens borrowed a toy hauler from their friend . . . and although I have always loved and been completely satisfied staying in a tent, this was definitely a step up. It was so incredibly nice and convenient . . . and gave Jeff yet another idea of a toy he wants to have. Warm running water, a microwave, a stereo, a TV . . . it's almost like it wasn't camping . . . which is exactly what Autumn said when we got there. She cried the first night saying, "We're not camping. Where's the tent?" Apparently in Autumn's view, the only time we were actually "camping" was when we were sitting around the campfire. She's probably right . . . what happened to those days when I used to filter my own drinking water!? Ahhhh . . . but, it sure was nice in that trailer.

With so much going on and so many people around, Autumn didn't get her usual naps in. So, before we even got out of Fish Lake, this is what she looked like in the truck . . .

The Urge to Throw Dirt Can be Overwhelming

That's Jeff on the right going, "Autumn, don't throw that dirt . . . Autumn, don't do it . . . Autumn, put it down . . ." Jeff blames me for her stubborness and I blame him. Neither one of us will give in . . . hmmmm . . . there's probably not much hope for her!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Messy Eaters, Good Eaters, and Chocolate Lovers

At least he's not gagging at every bite anymore . . . but, he's a long way from getting the food into his mouth. He is good at getting it in his eyes, ears, nose and every other inch of his face, though.

Autumn is my very best helper in the kitchen. She has learned to crack open eggs, measure liquids and is the best little stirrer around. She drags out her stool everytime I make anything saying, "I help you, Mom. I'm a good helper, huh?" I truly cherish her time with me in the kitchen and hope that it's something we can do together for a long, long time.
I can say with almost 100% certainty that Autumn gets her love of chocolate from me. There's not much in this world that tastes better than brownies. So, making brownies is a definite treat that Autumn takes full advantage of. I have to say she does resemble Jeff quite a bit with her chocolate goatee, though.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Uh oh . . . a picky eater??

The new theory in medicine is to wait until a child is a full six months old before giving anything other than milk. This was confirmed in the Spina Bifida Clinic . . . so, we were pleased that our first few attempts at rice cereal were met with curiosity and a willing little boy. Gavin has seemed really interested in what we're eating and drinking for quite a while. I checked back in Autumn's first year journal - and she was actually drinking milk from a cup at this point (and - no - I'm not trying to enforce competition between my two kids!). But, truly, there hasn't been a food that Autumn has resisted. So, imagine our concern as Gavin has started gagging at anything (we've tried pears, carrots, rice cereal and barley) . . . as soon as it comes NEAR his little mouth. Real, physical gagging! This one is going to be a tough cookie . . . (hmmm . . .maybe I should try cookies) . . .