Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Boys

Oh how I love these boys.  And, they love each other (except for when Gavin is screaming in Gage's face or poking him in the ribs or bonking him in the head, etc., etc.).

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of First Grade!!

Autumn has had a lot of 'first days of school' already.  One for preschool in Canada.  One each for Junior and then Senior kindergarten in Canada.  Another yet for the 2nd half of standard kindergarten in Heber, when we moved home.

And, now first grade!!!

Autumn handled the experience like an old pro.  Because she is now starting at the school within the boundaries of our house-in-progress, we will be driving her to school until we move in . . . whenever that is!

I worked from home so I could be part of the whole family trip to take her to school on her first day.  I was lucky enough to be able to walk her in.  And, I was waiting to pick her up and hear all about her day when she was done.  Those are days I wouldn't trade for anything.

And, then I made some special '1st grade' Jello jigglers to celebrate!  They were a hit.  I just wish I would have taken pictures of her gobbling them down.

A little about Autumn . . .

Autumn is as artistic as ever.  She still loves to draw, make jewelry, color, paint and invent new crafts.  And still, along with her artistic nature comes all of the passion and drama you might expect.  Her mood can change within seconds.  

Although she would rather not take the time to learn the notes on the staff, she can memorize piano music that is far beyond her current level.  She composes music, memorizes everything, and writes songs.

She is always being silly and trying to make other people laugh.  She hasn't perfected her sense of humor though, and we are constantly reminding her that what might be funny the first time, probably isn't as funny the fifth time!

Although she acts crazy and is more outgoing than ever in some ways, she is incredibly shy and sensitive.  She goes out of her way all the time, trying to make friends or talk to neighbors that are older than her.  And, my heart sinks when they ignore her.  We are always hoping that Autumn is a good friend and makes good friends.   

When she gets in trouble, she tends to try to make people laugh (which usually doesn't go over too well).  And, she gets terribly embarrassed when being reprimanded.

Although Autumn and Gavin sometimes fight like other typical siblings, Autumn has been handed a very heavy responsibility in caring for her brother.  And, she is so tender and thoughtful of him and his needs. 

Autumn has her own sense of style . . . and is very concerned about being modest and private.

She adores animals - especially kittens - but, will hold, capture, keep and love any animal that comes her way . . . from bugs to snakes to birds to house pets.  Nothing makes her happier than getting to ride a horse.  She's a natural cowgirl.

Autumn is a wild little daredevil.  She has quickly progressed on her dirt bike and loves her little snowmobile, too.  She learned to ice skate in Canada and is learning quickly how to roller blade.  She is learning to be a great little swimmer.  And, is the first to tell me how she doesn't need help with any of her activities.  Her overconfidence is fantastic . . . but, sometimes a concern.

She is currently very into Space and can tell you all about what happened to Pluto, how long small and big stars live and how she wants to be an astronaut one day.

We end most nights thinking of new ways to express how much we love each other . . . more than there are grains of sand, more than drops of water in the ocean, more than the number of stars in the sky.

But, most of all . . . despite her sassy attitude and her wild behavior and her sometimes awkward sense of humor, Autumn is kind and sincere.  I love spending one-on-one time with her, when she finally opens up to me about her thoughts and questions.  She makes me laugh constantly.  Nothing makes me happier than her laugh and her smile.

She is our beautiful little brown-eyed girl.

Made in Canada

At my going-away-dinner for Ancestry.ca, the team gave me a red onesie for Gage that said "Made in Canada."  It was my favorite gift (that and the magazine cover they created and framed with me on the cover!).

It is one of the beloved items we had tucked away in a closet that represents the time we were in Canada . . . a time that seems a million miles away.  We still don't understand how you can live for 2 1/2 years in a place and have all sorts of experiences . . . and then a few short months later, it feels like it was almost a dream.

We've just been waiting for Gage to grow into it.

He is wearing it proud on his 7th month birthday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Autumn was showing off her jump-roping skills today . . . and, I asked her if she had been practicing.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Nope.  I just got my talent back.  That's all."

Pioneer Day Holiday Camping Trip

Over the years, I've transformed from a backpacker who used to hike into the mountains for days and filter my own water . . . to a mom of three that appreciates the conveniences of a trailer.

I am lucky to be involved in a Spina Bifida Moms' group where I gather ideas and support from other parents who have children with unique needs.  The timing of our first meeting was perfect . . . I called Jeff on the way home to discuss the need for Gavin to have his own private bathroom and toilet.  We were nearing the final stages of our house plans and had drawn in one bathroom for Gavin and Gage to share.  After talking to the other moms, I realized how critical it would be for Gavin to have his own, uninterrupted space . . . especially as he grew older.  And, we were able to quickly make a change to our blueprint.

The other realization from that initial meeting was that our traditional style of camping would be transformed as Gavin aged and his bathroom needs changed.  There are certain things that you just can't do with a cooler of water and a bottle of sanitizer and a shovel.  So, we began the hunt for a trailer to accommodate our changing family needs.

The trailer is an integral part of our developing family plan.  I was fresh off of a day away at a Power of Moms conference with 100 other moms, Richard and Linda Eyre (NY bestselling writers of various parenting books who I absolutely LOVE), and other members of their family, where we discussed the importance of family identity and culture.  And, we had just been privileged to visit with Aaron Hicken's cousin's family, an amazing family, during Spring Break, near St. George. Jeff visited them once before on a dirt bike riding trip.

Within an hour of being at their home, I started asking them a million questions to learn their family secrets.  They are everything I hope to be as a family.  Their teenagers even hung out with us willingly, virtual strangers, on a Saturday night.  And, their answers were somewhat simple . . . they said something I won't forget. "We just love spending time together as a family."  And, the kids adamantly shook their heads in agreement!!  They have a fairly structured schedule, specific days of the week where friends can play, chores that are expected, and very regular family trips in their trailer.

They are exactly the kind of family we want to emulate.  So, Jeff and I made some decisions.

I'm not so naive to think that getting a trailer alone is the answer.  It's the decisions you make as a family to spend time together.  We asked ourselves, what do we want our kids to remember about their childhood when they leave our home.  And, we want them to remember us being together.  Making memories the old-fashioned way, with sticks, dirt, marshmallows and a frisbee.

Of course, we would have been absolutely content with our massive Costco tent.  But, we don't have a typical family . . . we do have special needs.  And, we want to do whatever we can to ensure Gavin has the same experiences that every other kid should have.

So, Pioneer Day/Weekend was our first trip together in our new (used) trailer.  And, it was wonderful (minus the mosquitoes and the most aggressive flies we have ever encountered).

Americans in Canada; Canadians in America

We were so excited to have some of our Canadian friends visit us in Heber.

The day before I returned to work from maternity leave, Amanda, Fernando and their little boy, Ethan, came into town for one day.  I'm almost positive that we took at least one picture . . . but, I sure haven't been able to track it down.  :(

And then the Meldrums came to visit!  I taught Margo in nursery the whole time we were in Canada.  So, she has a very special place in my heart.  And, my kids adore her.

Doug, Emily, Margo and baby Stella were able to spend one night with us and then make a quick trip out to the house-in-progress.

We'll have more room once the new house is finished.  So, hopefully we'll have some more friends coming to visit.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gage's First 6 Months

Just a few days old.  Gage has cheeks you have to kiss.

Lots of dark hair and hardly any eyelashes at all.

Caught in a rare moment where he was crying.  
I'm not sure how we got so lucky . . . but, this little guy is a happy baby.

Gage loves his bathtime.  Every time we put him in the water, he heaves a huge sigh and kicks his legs.

Oh the work and effort we put in to making Gage love his binkie.  Autumn and Gavin were addicted.  But, we had to do some serious convincing with our new little man. 

Big brother and sister were totally enraptured.  I'm not sure if Gage loved the attention as much.  But, there was an endless supply at our house.

I absolutely adore Gage's little dimple in his forehead.  

Oh those eyes and that little smile.

Anytime I get out the camera for Gage's monthly photo shoot, big brother, Gavin, is sure to jump in.

He's a little Jeffrey through and through.  Jeff's ears, Jeff's head shape . . . but, Mommy's blue eyes.

One of my very favorite ages . . . especially for pictures.  He is just learning to hold his head up and loves to smile at his family.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fishing at the Colorado Cabin

This has to be one of my all-time favorite series of pictures.  The entire trip was made possible by a ridiculous error on my part.

I had finally convinced Jeff to come with me to London on a mandatory business trip.  Little Gage was only six months old . . . and too  young for a nursing mom to leave for an entire week.  I researched the best light stroller that was easy to break down so that Jeff would be able to quickly get on and off the tube and could be mobile.  I bought a bottle cooler and a bottle warmer and other convenient items to make his trip more enjoyable.  I did everything I could to try to eliminate his concerns of being alone in London during the days with a small baby.  I even found a hotel that was literally a three minute walk from the conference center.  I did all of this . . . and forgot to get a passport for little Gage.

Yes, ridiculous.  I had just returned from living almost three years outside of the country.  It was just so normal that all of my children had passports . . . that it never even crossed my mind to get one for little Gage.

I realized my mistake on a Friday night on the way home from work . . . the night before we were intending to fly out to London.  There was really nothing that could be done quickly because of the weekend without costing $500-600.  I cancelled Jeff's flight.  I changed my flight to come home as early as possible (which, by the way . . . was a completely futile effort . . . I was stuck in London, routed to Boston, spent the night more than an hour outside of Boston, and then didn't make it home for an extra day).

Long story short . . . Jeff and the kids went to Colorado and enjoyed several days at the cabin while I was in London.  It was even slightly more painful because I celebrated my birthday in London.  Thankfully good friends at work tried to make it special.

Grandpa took the kids fishing.

And, Autumn caught a fish.  She was so happy and proud . . . until Grandpa slit it open to prepare it for cooking.  She thought that was pretty disgusting.

Gavin was happily along for the ride.

Playing outside, away from TVs, video games and everything else is the very best thing for kids, in my opinion.  I love that they were able to spend the week playing in the dirt.