Monday, December 24, 2012

Escape Artist

To the shoppers and employees of Famous Footwear,

I ran in today with my 23-month-old little man to buy a specific pair of shoes for his big sister on Christmas Eve.  I knew exactly where they were and what size I needed.  We headed directly to the cash register to make the purchase when she told us that all shoes were buy one get one half off.

Please don't blame me for feeling obligated to quickly find another pair of shoes to capitalize on the special offer.  Yes, I realize I had to spend more money to save.  I felt it would be irresponsible of me not to buy two pairs.

I just needed to try on two pairs of shoes.  Really . . . that's all I was doing . . . while Gage attempted to run out of the store at least 15 times.

I'm not a bad mom.  I just can't try on a pair of shoes while I'm restraining my little man.  I tried.  A few times.  I realized it wasn't possible.  There aren't carts in your store.  And, he realized that he could get to the door several different ways in a few seconds flat.

Thank goodness for double doors . . . and some knowledge, somewhere deep down, that told him that truly escaping the store into the snowy, busy, cold world was not in his best interest.  He hesitated every time at that final set of doors and giggled before he started to push the door open.

And, I was always running right behind him.  With one shoe on.  With two different shoes on.  Hopping on one foot.  His giggles gave him away.

And, to the woman that I ran into as I chased my man around the corner, I'm sorry again.  And, I do appreciate your telling me that you felt sorrier for me.  I think.

It's hard to keep my little man down.

The Mom that chased her son to the front door 15 times while shopping for a Christmas present and a really good deal

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in New York

I have always dreamed of Christmas in New York City.  I love New York.  Yearn for it sometimes. 

I've had the pleasure of experiencing the city twice.  Once to celebrate New Year's Eve at Times Square while I was at Radford.  A-mazing.  And, one other time a few years ago, when I was in town for a marketing summit.  In the few short days I was there, I went to see Wicked all by myself (giddy like a little girl on Christmas, calling Jeff from the lobby gushing about how excited I was to be there in that moment), visited Times Square, and shopped in some of the biggest stores downtown.  

What is it about this city that I find so incredibly enticing? 

Yes, I love my space, not paying for parking everywhere, having a car, quiet neighborhoods . . . but, I could be just as happy in a studio apartment on the 23rd floor . . . at least for a while.  I've said it before . . . I guess I'm a little bit country and a little bit city.  It's not that I don't know who I am . . . I think.  I just enjoy a lot of different things.

Jeff knows exactly who he is.  Jeff is all country.  And, I like Jeff.  Soooo . . . we will never be city people.  Living in Toronto was as close as we will get to big city life.

So, I will live my dream in other ways.  When the time is right, I'll find a way to spend some time in the Big Apple near Christmas.

For now, I'll go watch Miracle on 34th Street and try to get my fill of parades and crowds and skyscrapers.

Jeff wrinkles his nose at the thought of all of this . . . including any old movies.

But, that's the beauty of marriage.  You don't have to like every single thing together.  It's healthy to have your own dreams.

And, one of mine is New York City!!

Any takers?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

We Even Missed Santa . . .

Sigh.  Breathe.  It's over.  The relaxation can begin.  I can start my Christmas celebration.

Honestly, I did warn them when they asked me to be in charge of the ward Christmas party.  Although for years I hoped and aspired to be a Martha Stewart-type hostess.  Alas, it is not my strength.  Yet, they didn't have much time left to continue the search for a more appropriate event planner.  So, I reluctantly agreed.  Oh my . . .

200 people.  Breakfast.  Singing.  Entertainment.  Decorations.  Santa.

We survived.  People ate.  There was enough food.  There was singing, piano-playing, guitar-playing, and more singing.  Someone read Thomas Monson's new book, The Christmas Train, to the children.  It was very sweet.

There was one wild little toddler running around and squealing - pretty much the whole event - and trying to crawl onto stage.  Where were that kid's parents???

It would be funnier if I had a picture of said toddler so you could see little Gage's mischievous face.  I was, of course, too busy chasing the little guy and walking in and out of the gym to soften his screams during a beautiful solo of O Holy Night (the tear-inducing kind of rendition) to snap a photo.

Autumn and a few of her friends all sang a rockin' Christmas song together.  She was beyond thrilled. She'd been going back and forth for weeks on what she would sing.  She tries so very hard to fit in with the girls in the neighborhood - who are all one grade and one year ahead of her.  That year makes a difference.

I didn't take a single picture of the gym all decorated and set up.  It's almost as if it never happened.

And . . . my kids missed Santa.  All of the children stood in line and waited for that one last opportunity to tell Santa what they were still hoping for on Christmas morning and snap a photo.  But, not my children.  Not one.  How did that happen?

I took one picture of my favorite detail - the snowflake garland - that spanned the whole room.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  It really was pretty with the overhead lights off and the Christmas tree lights on.

Throwing this party was a little like building a house.  You do your best to think ahead - but, there are so many things that you don't know until it's just too late.  And, then once it's done, it's much easier to recognize what you could have changed to improve it.  Yet . . . you won't have the chance for a do-over . . . which is actually okay by me.

I am not Martha Stewart.  Not even close.

Now . . . back to my normally scheduled Christmas spirit . . . sigh.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Elf's Warning

There have been some little children around the house that have been what some might classify as a little 'naughty' lately.  And, with 6 days left until Christmas.  Gasp.

Apparently Christopher Elf's mere presence was not influence enough.  And, last night, he'd had enough.  He laid the smack down and presented an ultimatum.

Thanks, Christopher.  We couldn't have said it better ourselves!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Precious Memories

For the longest time, whenever we said something to Gage, we would usually end it by saying, "okay?"  And, he would always say, "Kkkkk."

And, ever time I read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, he would end every page by saying, "Niiiiiiight."

It was heart melting.  Ooey gooey puddles of sweetness.

And, then one day we noticed that he stopped saying, "Kkkkk" and "Niiiiiight."  Just like that.  Our little man had moved on from the phase he was in to the next phase.  And, he left a little behind of being a twenty month old . . . and came a few steps closer to being a 2-year-old.

And, those little moments become memories that might surface one day when we pick up the right book, smell the right smell, see the right pajamas.

But, I always fear that these sweet experiences might not make it to the shelf in my memory that holds the most precious treasures.

Like when Gavin called his beloved macaroni and cheese, mac aerial.  And, hamburgers, hangabers.

Garrett can't stop sticking his tongue out.  It hangs out of his mouth all the time, licking his lips and smiling.  He loves sleeping on his side and feeling a blanket right up against his face - just like his big brother.

Gage lays down in bed every night and pulls his silky blanket right over his face - wrapped up like a little cocoon.

Autumn must have ice in her water every night.  Often she doesn't even touch it.  But, it has to be there or she can't sleep.

Gavin, who left his bears behind more than a year ago, has reattached himself to one particular bear that he calls Buddy.  And, he can absolutely tell the difference between the bears he has . . .

Oh these babies . . . they hold my heart.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gage and the Ranson Grands

Before our trip to Virginia, we began talking to Gage about meeting his grandparents.  We talked to him about the plane ride and meeting new cousins, Aunt Amy, Uncle Ken and Grandma and Grandpa.

One thing about Gage . . . I think he really listens and understands.  He will just look intently and absorb everything we say.

But, we also feared we might be creating some confusion between the grandparents.  He knows the Peterson Grands very well.  He may just be Grandpa Peterson's biggest fan.

So, Jeff suggested I show him a picture of my mom and dad to try to make a distinction.

If only I had a video of his first look at the picture of the Ranson Grands.

He stared in wide-eyed amazement.  Pure amazement.  His little mouth formed an "ohhh" and he shook his head a little in wonder and glee.  Seriously.  It was like he was seeing one of the Seven Wonders.

Of course . . . in my book . . . my parents are better than the Great Wall of China.  And, I'm glad Gage agrees.

More to come on our trip to Virginia.  It was awesome.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Peterson Thankful Turkey

Instilling a sense of gratitude in our kids is a top priority for Jeff and me.  You can always have more or less than you have.  The real joy in life is when you appreciate exactly what you do have.  And, I think this is sometimes difficult to teach to children . . . but, critical.

Autumn suggested we create a thankful 'turkey' this year instead of our traditional thankful tree.  He grew over time.  But, this was a picture of him on his birth day.

I am so incredibly grateful for the life I have.  My husband is amazing.  I'm not saying that in the blog-facing, 'painting the perfect picture' way.  I'm serious.  He's amazing.  I love him more today than ever before.  We have a beautiful marriage.  We know that love is both a verb and a feeling.  And, we work together.

The other night we were picking questions out of our dinner-time family questions cup.  And, when asked who his best friend was, Jeff told the kids, "Your Mom."  Oh man.  I wanted to jump across the table into his arms . . . Tom Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah's-couch kind of style.  I love that man (Jeff - not Tom Cruise).  Adore him.  I'm grateful for him.  I appreciate how hard he works, how he never seems to get tired, how strong he is and even keel . . . and how he makes me laugh.  And, of course, how amazing of a dad he is.

And, these little kids of mine . . .  I know that we had dreamed and planned for 3 or 4 kids when we were in our early stages of marriage.  But, over the last 5 years, I was sure that our family would be much smaller than we had originally contemplated.

I am so thankful that we were able to have all four of these little angels in our family.  Even when Autumn is poking me on the shoulder saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom" (while I'm talking to her, by the way), Gavin is ramming into the walls and his brother in his wheelchair and has Luke Bryan playing full blast on repeat in the background, Gage is climbing onto the island, turning the faucet around and letting the water fun wide open on the countertop, and Garrett is screaming in the floor for some attention of his own . . .  I stop sometimes and just admire this family that Jeff and I have created.  They hold my heart strings.

And, even though my expectation in life was not to be a career mom . . . I am so grateful for the job I have.  The job that has taken us to Canada, that has enabled me to develop and grow and be challenged as a manager, the job that helped make our dream home a reality, and the job that gives me flexibility to be a mom, too.

And, I'm so appreciative of the family we have that love and support us.

And, the friends that have become family.

We are grateful.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BYU Game

I had a great experience at BYU for grad school.  Jeff and I went to football games, volleyball games and even World of Dance and more.  It was awesome to take advantage of all that a university has to offer.

And, I'll be honest . . . I more than secretly hope that we can instill a devotion to BYU in our kids.  Yes, I didn't stay home and go to the local college in Virginia either.  But, think . . . they have a choice of locations from Provo to Idaho to Hawaii with BYU!  And, yes . . . absolutely . . . the most important point is that they have a love for learning and a desire to continue in their education to earn a bachelor's degree.  Even if it's not BYU.  Still . . . no harm in getting the kids excited about all that universities have to offer.

And, at our house . . . a great way to get any one's attention is . . . FOOTBALL!

I had already found a daytime game in the schedule that would be perfect for taking the kids.  And, we were incredibly lucky to have friends that sponsored the game through Les Shwab and offered us tickets.  I did actually try to find a sitter for Gage - knowing that sitting in the bleachers for a few hours wasn't going to be his style.  But, my list is super short - and the two options that I called couldn't help out.

So . . . we headed to the game with all four kids in tow . . . fully geared up in our BYU garb (excluding Jeff who was making fun of us a bit).  I told him we would blend right in once we got to the game and I was right.

Local BYU fans are hard core.

I was able to sit down in our seats with the whole family for roughly 10-15 minutes the whole game.  Jeff chased Gage around during this time until I decided to take him and Garrett to the inside of the stadium/behind the bleachers and walk around.

Yes, I missed the whole game.  Yes, I'm the biggest BYU fan in the family.

But, you know what?  I wanted these little precious babies.  And, this is where I am in life right now . . . putting the needs of these wee angels first.

I didn't have one second of regret as I carried Garrett around in his comfortable sling and walked around holding little Gage's hand.  I watched him chase a basketball around and interact with the much older kids that were attempting to make a few baskets.

We climbed into more than one of the golf cart-type vehicles used for transporting BYU food and goods.  Yes, I'm sure that wasn't actually condoned behavior . . . but, Gage thought it was the coolest thing ever.

The game was awesome.  And, I didn't even get to watch it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Back to School 2012

Having a maternity leave that coincided almost exactly with summer break was amazing.  I knew both our summer and mat leave would seemingly fly by.  The first six weeks or more after a c-section is more sitting and cuddling and aching than relaxing and fully enjoying.  But, I wouldn't trade time with my husband and babies for anything.

So, before I knew it . . . it was time for school to begin again.  And, time for Gavin to officially start school.  Having Gavin in preschool in Canada and last year here definitely eased the transition a bit.  But, there's just something about that bus that gets to a mom.  The bus seems so big and suddenly our baby seems so small.

Autumn started school almost two weeks before the kindergartners.  You don't know how many times I have said something or referenced Autumn being in 1st grade rather than 2nd over the last month.  Obviously this mom is in denial that her little girl is growing up!  2nd grade already.  I remember my second grade year in Mrs. Smith's class.  I love school and still do.  I honestly remember 2nd grade being my least favorite year of elementary school.

Autumn has a really amazing, positive and happy teacher, Mrs. Hansen.  Autumn really loves her and so do we.  So, I'm really hopeful that Autumn is going to have an amazing experience this year.

And, then it was time for our little guy to become a kindergartner.  He has the two boys from the neighborhood in his class and Kyler Hicken, his best little friend.  So, we are thrilled that he is surrounded by good boys that can help him - but, also that treat him just like all the other kids.

Jeff and I let Gavin ride the bus - and then met him at school to take some pictures and walk with him to his classroom.  As soon as we got to the gym, Gavin left us behind and was happy to run over and play with the other kids.  Of course he was sitting beside Kyler and being as silly as ever.  On Gavin's left is Bentley - and directly behind Bentley is Koler - both boys in the neighborhood and in Gavin's primary class at church.

Kyler and Gavin love to make everyone laugh.  The video of these two kids is even funnier.  I'll upload that soon.

Gavin had no problem powering down the hall to his classroom.  They literally walk from one end of the building to the other.  The only thing that slowed him down was a too-big backpack sliding off his shoulders over and over.  I quickly remedied the situation with a new Spiderman backpack and sternum clip combination the next day.  Since then, he hasn't slowed down. 

Since the chin-splitting incident, we have been super conscious of water complications.  When it rains, we send him to school with his walker.  We don't want to take any chances of any other falls.  This winter, we are going to have to send a walker daily.

Gavin also has such a cute and happy teacher, Mrs. Stanley.  She has been so positive and encouraging and happy to work with.  I feel very lucky to have her.  And, she treats us like normal people (hard to explain - but, I've only felt really comfortable with a few of Autumn's teachers so far).  Mrs. Stanley is great for Gavin.

We celebrated the first day of school with our traditional Jell-o jiggler letters.  Grandma and Grandpa Peterson were in town helping us put an entire irrigation system in the backyard and plant grass.   So, rather than the full letter display, Autumn and Gavin cut out their initials . . . and then everyone dug in.

Two kids in elementary school already - and two more to go.  It goes by quickly.

And, I won't linger too long on the subject . . . but, man . . . I felt like I had another full-time job coordinating everything that Gavin would need to be a successful kindergartner.  Gavin has had no problems at all fitting right in and doing it happily.  It's all the behind-the-scenes stuff, that I really don't want him even thinking about, that was so complicating.  I spent hours and hours at school in meetings, IEP groups, 504 coordination, meeting the aides, training the aides, educating the nurse and more.  Not to mention, we've both spent hours coordinating with the bus transportation staff for what ended up being a slightly sub-par solution (Gavin's afternoon bus doesn't drop him off at our door.  So, Jeff has to meet him at the corner.  Imagine that with two babies, nap schedules, and eventually snow.)

In our first large school meeting (including the principal, new teacher, aides, resource leads, district personnel and more), I started by walking through a presentation with pictures on Gavin  and Spina Bifida, including his progression and special needs.  A few days later, the special education lead, Lauren, told me how impressed they all were to see the presentation I had prepared.  She said that you'd be surprised at how little so many parents are involved.  It was very encouraging for me to hear.  I had debated whether or not to give the presentation and then had slightly rushed through it.  Lauren has been an amazing ally.  I really appreciate having such supportive people around to lean on.

Yes, we are Gavin's best advocates. And, no, it's not easy.  But, he's worth it.