Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Time!

Happy Halloween! I like Halloween, but I don't love it. I was super lame and didn't even put up decorations this year. I had good intentions, but with Forrest out of town and then my trip out to Missouri in the middle of the month to bring him home, decorating was low on the totem pole of things to do! But I still wanted to make it fun for Charlie and Caroline.

They are learning to LOVE Halloween. The courtyard at our apartments is all decked out with ghosts, pumpkins, witches and scarecrows. Our neighbor's door is covered in skeletons and Happy Halloween signs. And the kids think it's the best thing ever! Especially Caroline. She walks around pointing at everything with her jaw dropped and says "Ooooohhhhh!" It's adorable. When we were at the grocery store I walked them down the Halloween aisle and the both kept saying "boo!" over and over at every new decoration they saw. Silly kids.

We had our ward Trunk or Treat on Saturday. We dressed up our cute little munchkins in a bumble bee and a lady bug costumes. Forrest and I carried nets to go with our "bug catcher" costumes. The littles thought it was wonderful going from car to car and getting oodles of candy that we will never let them eat. And they looked super adorable!


It has been pointed out to me that Charlie's head looks 100 times bigger than Caroline's in these pictures. Let me explain: His head isn't huge. It's actually kinda small percentile wise. But the allusion is due to his constume being a 6-9 month size, and Caroline's being 12-18 month. Hey, we make do with what we've got! And on the bright side, a future child will be able to wear them both on different years.


We try to do a fun family activity every Monday night. In our church, we call it Family Home Evening. Yesterday for FHE we were planning on carving pumpkins. Then it turned out that the only pumpkins we had were pint sized and a little too small for our unskilled hands to carve. So we opted to paint them instead, and Charlie and Caroline thought that was the best idea ever! I made edible paint using Sweetened Condensed Milk and food coloring. Caroline painted her pumpkin and the floor really well, and Charlie had a blast painting himself and eating the paint. They were so cute!



In the end we had a giant mess to clean up, but I think it's good for kids to get messy sometimes. And it's not so bad cleaning up when you don't have to do it alone! 

So we've had a great Halloween so far, and it's not even October 31 yet! Holidays are so much more fun when you have little ones who are experiencing everything for the first time. 



Monday, October 20, 2014

Growing Up

My kids are 14 months old. They are a little crazy, and I love them to pieces. They laugh nonstop and love to tackle/climb/headbutt/roar at/wave at me, Forrest, and eachother. And anyone else for that matter. They aren't babies, but they're not toddlers yet either (some people would argue that they are.. I refuse to listen to those arguments). But they're still MY babies. I know it won't seem that way when the new baby comes, but for now they can still be that. They are teeny tiny little humans of the most adorable nature. And in my mind, they will always be that way.

Until today. Today Forrest and I went on a date to see "Meet the Mormons" in theater. (Side note: it is an outstanding film and was so inspirational. Everyone should see it and love it as much as we did!) The last section of the film is about a family from Utah with a son who leaves on a two-year volunteer mission for the Church to South Africa. And the mom. The mom of course is an emotional wreck, saying good-bye to her son. Until that point, I thought Charlie would never grow up. And then it hit me all at once. One day (hopefully), I will be that mom sending my little boy off on a mission to some far away place. The mom in the movie says something to the effect of "I learned that he was not mine, but he was on loan to me. And I was returning him to his Father for a short time." And then the tears flowed. Hers, and mine. 

I know we will have eternity together as our family, and what a blessing that is. But to even think of saying good-bye to my son - my perfect, sweet son - for two years is completely heart-wrenching. (Can you tell I have some major pregnancy hormones going on? I mean the kid just barely turned one for crying out loud.) Like the mom in the movie said, your head knows it's right and good but your heart says no. And really, I hope Charlie makes that selfless decision to go and spend two years of his life in service of the Lord. I really do want that for him. But the thought of it still makes my heart hurt.

Today was the first time I ever thought of my children growing up. And parts of them growing up make me excited. I can't wait to watch their sporting events and be their biggest fan (in whatever they choose to do). But I now know what my mom, and every mom means when she tells her babies to stay little and never grow up.

Please, please my babies, never grow up. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Surreal



Today marks 10 weeks since I drove my husband to an Army base, kissed him goodbye and drove away in tears. In those 10 weeks we have talked on the phone five times. Two of those phone calls lasted less than a minute, the other three were 20-30 minutes of bliss. I've recieved 20 letters, some short and some long. I've sent 100 pictures of Charlie and Caroline, and showed videos to them of their daddy every single day so they don't forget him.

Later today I will board an airplane that will take me to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where tomorrow I will get to hug and kiss my husband again. The only word I can think to describe it is "surreal." I can't believe the time has passed. I can't believe we all survived. I can't believe that he will be back home with us so soon and that we can have meals together like a normal family. I can hardly contain my excitement, and I can hardly believe it is all happening.

Everyone says the time flew by for them. And you know, sometimes it did for me too. There were days that seemed a lot longer and harder than others. But in general, the days went by fairly quickly. But when I look back at what life was like 10 weeks ago, it makes it seem like a really long time. Charlie and Caroline hadn't even turned 1 yet. We celebrated their birthday a week early so Forrest could be there. Now they are 14 months old. Caroline wasn't walking yet. Now she is practically running. The babes couldn't talk much, and now they jabber non-stop (with a lot of real words included!). I was only 10 weeks pregnant when he left. Now I am half-way there. When I think about it in those terms, it does seem like he's been gone forever.

But we survived, and the long weeks of waiting are over. I am so looking forward to having him home with me again. I'm just trying not to think about Spring-time when he leaves for the next 10 weeks training, because we'll have three kids then, icluding a newborn. Here's to focusing on the time that he IS here, and not the time that he's not. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Good Days

Today was a good day. Yesterday was NOT a good day. Both days I was at home, taking care of two toddlers, all by myself. Both days my husband was gone. I didn't get phone calls, texts, or emails from him. Both days I had minimum amounts of food in my refrigerator because of a serious need to go to the grocery store. Both days were freezing cold outside. And both days, I had a billion things on my to-do list. 

Yesterday I got up out of bed, got the kids breakfast, played for a little while, then put them back down for a nap. Then I layed on the couch like a potato and watched the Price is Right. Nap over, lunch, play, afternoon nap. Lay on the couch and watch Friends. Nap over, dinner, bedtime craziness. Lay on the couch and watch Modern Family. Bum around and waste time until I finally go to bed close to midnight.

Ok I exaggerate a little bit. I did write a check, get the mail, go on a beautiful scenic drive, give myself a manicure, and put some laundry away. But that was about it. I didn't shower. I didn't do my hair. I didn't put on makeup, get dressed, cook a real meal, clean the disater that is my apartment, or go to the grocery store. And honestly, I felt like crap all day.

Today started the same way. Wake up to the cute back-and-forth jabbering of my babies. Breakfast, play time, the nap. But then I did something different. Most days at this point I try to workout, shower, do my hair, and get dressed. And that's good too. But today my house needed me. So instead of turning on the TV and laying on the couch like a potato, I make a to-do list. And then I started at the top: clean the bathroom. Not like a basic "pick-up" the bathroom. It was in desparate need of a good scrubbing. So I got dressed in my grungiest grunge-wear and got to work. I love crossing things off of lists. It is the best feeling in the world.

The rest of the day went about like that. Wash the dishes, check. Fold the laundry, check. Vacuum, sweep and mop, check. Make a real dinner, check. Take out the trash, check. Seriously my list was two pages long and I cruised through it in a few short hours. Why yes, I do think I deserve a gold medal for that! (Pause here to give props to my kids for being such good sleepers, that I actually have 4+ hours of naptime each day to get things done.)

Not every day is like that. I don't always get a billion things done in less than half the day. But all "The Good Days" have a few things in common:

1) Less TV - If you know me at all, you know I love my TV shows. And I'm not saying NO TV, because that would be really hard for me. But just less of it.

2) A Clean House - Whether the house is already clean or the day involves me cleaning (let's be honest, I have 1 year old twins. The day ALWAYS involves me cleaning), having a clean house makes a serious difference in how well my day goes.

3) Positivity - Ultimately, I know that every day I have the power to choose how I feel. Not physically, necessarily, but emotionally. If I wake up and lounge around and decide not to do anything, then I usually have a bad day. But if I wake up and decide that I'm going to do something and feel good, then I do it. And it almost always ends up as a good day.

I declare that if I am in control of whether or not I have a good day (and I think that my above thoughts will confirm that I am), then I will choose to have far more good days then bad days. In fact, I would like to have no bad days at all. (Ha! Wouldn't that be nice.) But really, it's my choice. So I think I will choose the good. What about you?

And we'll throw in a TBT to this GREAT day last week, when we got to FaceTime daddy for the first time in 8 weeks. 13 days and counting!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Albino.

I cringe when I hear that word. For the first few months after Charlie was diagnosed with Albinism, I found myself getting frustrated and even angry with people whenever I would hear them refer to him as an albino. I felt like I needed to defend him from others who didn't understand who he really was, and that "albino" had nothing to do with his real identity.
Lately, though, I've been thinking a lot about my son's future. For years Forrest and I have dreamed about travelling around the world and spending years living in different countries. And I always imagined that we would take our children along with us, giving them new experiences that most children wouldn't have. We talked about travelling while the our children were young, and being settled by the time they reached high school. But now my thoughts have shifted toward Charlie, and what would be best for him. 
And I think it will be important for him to not be offended by the term "albino". Because he's going to get called that - not necessarily out of cruelty or meanness, but just because people don't know the proper term. I was one of those people, until my little Char-monster came along. I also think it will be important for Charlie not to be the new kid all his life. I think we will need to be settled long, long before his high school years so that he can grow up with people who know him and who don't think he's strange for having albinism.
I realize I can't protect him from every harm and evil out there. But oh how I wish I could. I realize that he will be teased and stared at, and the thought of it makes me want to cry. But I know he will be so much stronger because of it.
He reminds me of this talk in the April 2014 General Conference, given by Neil L. Andersen:

"In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return."

That's my Charlie. I know the winds are going to come. And I know he will grow stronger and be given the tools he needs to withstand the damaging forces around him. I already find myself amazed by Charlie's determination. Where Caroline gets frustrated with something that she can't do and brings it to me to do instead, Charlie spins an object around in his hands and stares at it closely until he figures it out for himself. I have learned so much from him already, and I think he will continue to teach me things throughout my lifetime. I'm so blessed to be a parent to such a wonderful and special spirit.