Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Things I’ve learned lately:

Even using a carabiner to attach my car keys to my purse cannot prevent me from losing them.  In the store.  Honestly, I am cursed.

Austin will eat just about anything when promised a treat afterward.

A vase of fresh flowers on the kitchen table works wonders for my mood, even when I’m already happy (and even when I bought the flowers).

Washing windows really isn’t that bad and makes me feel great when I’m done, despite the fact that an hour later they have fingerprints on them again.

Painting trim is harder than it looks.

The later I stay up, the harder it is for me to fall asleep.  Early to bed, early to rise really is best.

When I think I have a sinus infection, I probably do.  Taking my kids with me to the doctor and pharmacy is better than staying sick.

Staying calm and trying to be loving when I am unhappy with children’s behavior almost always makes the situation better.  Getting angry almost certainly makes the situation worse.

Things I love lately:

Chuck (the T.V. series)

Temperatures in the 70s

Apples dipped in peanut butter

Sally buckling herself into her car seat

Austin’s ever increasing ability to talk clearly

My children sleeping until 8 just about every morning

My fenced-in backyard

My friends (especially when they rescue me from the store because my keys are gone)

Sally’s new-found good attitude at dinner time

Neal (how could I not include him?)

The Crazies

A silly little video of my crazy little kids.  For Neal.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Update Time

Time for yet another family update (actually it is well past time, and this update was written more than a month ago.  Why am I just now publishing it?  Good question, I wish I knew the answer myself):


Neal has been staying busy with work, but not as busy as he has in the past.  He has actually hasn’t worked a weekend for quite a while, which has been AWESOME!  The weekends are fun again!

He has been working in the pain clinic this month, and actually has enjoyed it (much to his surprise, as well as mine!).  And when I say enjoyed it, I mean the actual work, not just the great hours.  Does the future hold a pain fellowship for him after his 4 year stint with the Air Force?  Perhaps…

He spent the spring and early summer training for and competing in the Topeka Tinman triathlon.  He did really well, even in the open water swim portion, which he thought he would struggle with.  The kids and I met him at the finish line, which was a lot of fun.  We were so proud of him!

Last weekend he participated in an all night Frisbee tournament called “The Cool of the Night” (although the weather was anything but cool).  He had a lot of fun and performed almost as well as he did in his glory days, although he paid for it later!  Let’s just say that playing Ultimate Frisbee for 6 hours straight after doing almost no hard physical activity for 6 weeks is bound to cause some pain.  In addition to having a great time, he got invited to play with the traveling KC Ultimate team.  Too bad they practice on Wednesdays (during Scouts) and most of their tournaments are on Sundays.


Sally loves learning and is excited about learning to read.  I bought a preschool workbook for her that she loves working in.  She often talks about doing things to help her prepare for school.  She loves cutting with her scissors (although we are still working on cutting a straight line), loves coloring, and is starting to want to write letters.  She loves tracing letters, but until recently has been hesitant to write them on her own--she is a bit of a perfectionist (where is the world did that come from?) and is afraid of messing up the letters.

She loves riding her bike.  A few weeks ago I felt brave enough to let her try to ride to a friends’ house while I pushed Austin in the stroller.  The house was one block over and two blocks down, and she made it the whole way by herself (although there were a few points along the way that I had to give her a bit of help with an incline or a decline).   She was so proud of herself!

She has recently shown us quite how stubborn she can be when it comes to not eating things she “doesn’t like.”  Lately, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes have cause quite the stir at dinner.  Although I was terribly stubborn about food myself as a child, I think she has me beat.  I won’t go into too much detail, but she is driving me nuts!  Much to my surprise, last Monday night she stoically turned down her FHE treat of ice cream because she would not eat even one bite of zucchini, and then politely sat with Neal, Austin, and I as we ate our ice cream and asked us “are you enjoying your treat?”  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, although I was still annoyed that she had won.

She loves doing somersaults and dancing when I play the piano.  If only Austin would let me play without pulling my hands off of the keys. 

She has a talent for memorizing things.  Every month for Primary she memorizes the scripture of the month.  We only have to say it with her a few times before she has it down.  At a Primary talent show a few months ago, she recited a poem for her talent.  She had no fear going up on the stage all by herself, and she recited the poem very clearly and confidently into the microphone. 


Oh, where to begin with that little guy?  Austin is in perpetual motion, always climbing, running, leaping, and throwing things.  I daresay he will be an athlete someday.

While he has always loved books, only lately has he decided to let me read them to him.  I love that for the past few months now he gets excited about sitting on my lap while I read his favorite books to him.

Austin is no longer bald!  He has quite a thick head of hair, although it is so light that he sometimes looks bald.  I’m of the opinion that his hair is blond, but others swear he is a strawberry.

He loves playing with balls, sticks, things that make noise, things with lids, play food, blocks, and baby dolls.  Yes, baby dolls.  He is quite the tenderhearted little guy.  Oh, and he loves phones.  Especially Neal’s phone.

His favorite person in the world is Sally.  The first person that he wants in the morning is Sally, and he asks for her whenever she is out of his sight.

He loves his blanket with a passion.  Unfortunately he usually wants his binky when he is snuggling with his blanket, and I am getting pretty strict at limiting the binky time to nap or bed time.  Washing the blanket is a tricky business.  Somehow he always sees me with it and throws a fit.

He is very skilled with a spoon and fork.  I let him eat cereal and milk solo, and he doesn’t make too big of a mess. 

He is getting quite good at talking.  A few words from his vocab:  spoon, bowl, milk, fork, bread, cheese, snack, cracker, cupcake, ball, binky, baby, bike, truck, airplane, up, down, outside, go, dog, cow, pig, meow, please, thank you, sorry.  He usually will just say one word at a time, but lately has started putting a few words together (mostly “Please, mama!!!”, “Bye-bye dada!”).   He likes to mimic what he hears us say, hence the additions of “shoot!” and “oh man!” to his vocabulary.

He recently decided that singing is not just for mommies and little girls.  He loves singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Happy Birthday,” and “I Am a Child of God”.

He hates getting the sun in his eyes, but refuses to wear sunglasses (he takes them off and breaks them).  I only recently made the connection between the sun in his eyes and his dislike of being in the car.  He even told me the other day when I asked him why he was crying, “Sun…eyes!”

He is now officially in nursery, and likes it (Neal took him illegally to nursery several times).  Hallelujah!

He is a happy and light-hearted child that makes me incredibly happy.  I feel so blessed to have him in my family.


Not much new to report here.  Life stays relatively the same for me with family, work (still plugging away with 5-10 hours a week from home, although July was a really slow month), piano lessons, Relief Society, and friends (although I haven’t been as social this summer as I usually am). 

I absolutely love being a SAHM, and often want to quit my job so I can enjoy it even more and have less stress in my life.  I love that I have freedom to wake up in the morning and decide where the day will take me and my little ones.  I love that I can make each day unique and fun.  I love being able to teach my children and watch them discover new things.  Although it is hard to bear at times, I love knowing that two little people are counting on me to be my best.  I'm a better person for it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funeral, Family, Fun

My grandpa Dickson died on July 10, and Neal, the kids, and I all headed off to Utah for the funeral. My initial plan was to go alone, although I really wanted to bring my children. I didn’t think that Neal coming was even an option. But when he called me from work letting me know he’d arranged things so he could be there, I threw my frugality to the wind and bought some plane tickets. Neal’s grandma died two years ago, and Sally and I stayed home while Neal went to the funeral in Utah. Both Neal and I regretted the fact that I stayed home just because we didn’t want to spend the money. What is money for, anyway, but to be used on the things that matter most?

I am so grateful that we were all able to go. The trip was full of family and fun. We arrived in Utah on Friday afternoon and pizza at Spencer and Korrin’s house with all of my siblings (even Angie and Hyrum, who cut their vacation short and traveled around the world to be there) before attending the viewing for my grandpa. The viewing was a very relaxed environment, and I had a great time visiting with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Sally and Austin wandered around and played with their cousins, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the viewing was, well, the viewing. I hardly recognized my grandpa and was sad to see how gaunt he had become in the last few weeks of his life.

The next morning was the funeral. While I shed quite a few tears, I really enjoyed the funeral. The talks were touching and at times humorous. My dad and all of his siblings but one spoke (my uncle Mark, who later dedicated the grave). I accompanied my sisters and female cousins in a song that my grandma wrote for my grandpa. I really felt the Spirit during the funeral and felt a lot of comfort in the knowledge that I will see my grandpa again, that he is happy, and that he had lived a righteous life and was ready to graduate to the next phase of his existence.

One of the best parts of the funeral was that there was a nursery for the children provided by some of the young women in my grandparents’ ward. What a huge relief for me and Neal (and the other parents with small children) to be able to sit and enjoy the service without trying to entertain our children. Sally and Austin seemed to have a good time, and got to spend time with their cousins. Bless those young women!

Another highlight of the funeral was visiting with several of my cousins that I hadn’t seen for years. It was fun taking with them, and touching to see the sacrifices they had made to travel so far to be at the funeral. I miss being able to spend time with my extended family. I am thankful that I am able to see them from afar by reading their blogs and emailing (and I’m sure that Facebook would be helpful if I were into that sort of thing!).

After the funeral was over, the rest of the trip was all fun and games. On Saturday night we all (parents, siblings and their families) got together at Al and Tyler’s house for a “Fantastic Mr. Fox” party. I didn’t see the entire movie, but I liked what I saw. Sally had a fantastic time watching the movie and playing with her cousins, as did Austin (although he didn’t actually watch much). Neal and I enjoyed being with the family and relaxing, as well.

Neal went home on Sunday right before the big family dinner at my parents’ house (the bimonthly family dinner). More talking and laughing and cousin play time for Sally and Austin. I think that Sally’s favorite thing in the world to do is to play with her cousins. She was on cloud 9 the entire time.

Monday was Ada and Kate’s birthday party—the highly anticipated event that was probably the highlight of Sally’s trip. Sally and I helped Alison with the cupcakes—5 color layered rainbow cupcakes. They were fun to make, and I’m glad I could help out. The party started at the Kangaroo Zoo, a play center with lots of inflatable slides and play areas for kids. Both kids loved it, and I would have had more fun if I hadn’t been going crazy trying to keep m y eye on both of the kids. After the Zoo we met at Al’s house for dinner and cupcakes. Alison set up a table with several jars of candy with scoops in them. It was decorated like Candy Land and was very cute. Austin, being the smart little guy that he is, quickly learned that if he hung out near that table, he could pick up the candies that fell to the ground whenever a little girl for boy scooped out some candy. I don’t know how much candy he ended up eating, but let’s just say that he was incredibly happy, and a sticky mess by the end of the evening. He also loaded up on ice cream and cupcakes. Between the Squire family and the Dickson family, there were lots of kids at the party, which meant lots of dessert plates left unattended, which led to Austin getting much more dessert than he needed.

On Tuesday Ella and Grace were at my parents’ house while Korrin went to work, and Sally had a fabulous time playing with them. Sally and Ella played “beach” in the backyard together for quite a while after running through the sprinklers. It was fun watching them play. Little children are so full of energy and imagination! That evening the kids and I went to 7 Peaks Salt Lake (formerly Raging Waters) with Abby, the Squires, and the Marstons. I wasn’t initially thrilled about going, but ended up having a great time. Hyrum watched my kids for a while so I could go on slides with Abby and Ang (Al , being pregnant, opted out of the slides). I was pushed into going on the super scary steep slide that you go down on a sled, and I’ll never do it again! It was fun, but too scary for me! The highlight of the night was going around and around the lazy river. Austin wore a puddle jumper and Sally wore a life jacket, and we all just floated lazily along.

On Wednesday my mom took the kids and I to the Living Planet Aquarium. Austin loved looking at the fish and the penguins, and Sally loved being with my mom and eating macaroni and cheese for lunch. I thought that the aquarium was very fun and well-done. It was fun seeing the penguins dive and flip in the water. They seemed so carefree.

Thursday we went home, but not until packing in a full day of activities. In the morning I went with my dad and the kids to visit my Grandma Dickson. It was the first time that I had seen her new house since it was finished. She had gifts and a little tea party waiting for me and the kids—she is very creative and thoughtful. Sally loved how “fancy” her house was, and composed a little song for the occasion. I spied on her as she played the piano and sang to herself. This is the gist of what she sang:

“My mommy’s grandpa is gone. He has gone to heaven, and now my grandma is all alone. But she will be alright because Jesus is here to watch over and comfort her. My grandma is so fancy and her house is so beautiful. Now that I’ve seen her beautiful decorations I love her even more!”

We finished up our visit just in time for me to drop the kids off at my parents’ house, put a dress on, and head with my mom to the Mt. Timanogos temple to see my best friend, Kim, sealed to her husband Christian. The date was July 21, her anniversary as well as mine. To make a long story short, Kim and Christian had several stumbling blocks along their road to getting sealed, and got the happy news that their request was approved just a few days before their anniversary. They called the temple and made the arrangement to be sealed July 21. When Kim told me the news, I extended my trip so I could be there (I was supposed to leave the previous day, and had I not purchased a ticket on a bereavement fare, I wouldn’t have been able to change my flight—I guess it was meant to be). I was so grateful I was able to attend the sealing. It was a beautiful ceremony, and while it was uncharacteristic of me to be so emotional, I cried through the whole thing. I was so happy for Kim and Christian, and I was also reminded of my own wedding day.
After the sealing, I flew like the wind to pick up my kids and head to the airport.

Our flight went from SLC to the O’Hare airport, then to Kansas City after a quick plane change. I was incredibly nervous about the flight, by it couldn’t have gone any better. Both kids were on their best behavior, the plane change was a breeze, and we arrived in Kansas City right on schedule. Neal and I were able to spend about 1.5 hours of our anniversary together, which is more than can be said of some of our anniversaries!

It was a great trip, and I feel so blessed to have had such a great experience.
Since this post isn’t quite long enough yet, here are a few of my memories of Grandpa Dickson:

Before his health and memory really began to decline, Grandpa was always cheerful, friendly, and talkative. He called me Emma Lee from over the sea. He loved telling jokes, and often had a hard time telling the punch line because he was laughing too hard. He loved telling stories about his family, his missions and his ancestors.

He was intelligent, quick, and witty. When my dad told him that I had won my elementary school spelling bee, he quickly began spouting off obscure words for me to spell. I didn’t know how to spell some of them and tried to change the subject, which worked for a time. At the end of the visit, he didn’t let me off the hook, and when I spelled a word incorrectly, he quickly set me straight.
He liked trying to stump his grandchildren. When I was 5 or 6, he and my grandma took me, Alison, and Abby to the zoo. He asked me what direction we were going, and asked if I knew all of the directions a car could go. After I answered north, south, east, and west, he said that I was missing two. I had no clue, and he finally told me: up and down.

He had a very strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Church. He loved to read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, and would often quote scripture. He always served faithfully in his church callings, and was kind and generous. He had a library full of books by apostles and prophets and could always be found reading one of them. I never doubted his testimony, his commitment to the Church, or his desire for all of his posterity to be faithful. When I told him that I was engaged to Neal, he questioned me to make sure that Neal was a faithful member of the Church, a returned missionary, and had a good family background. I knew that he wanted only the best for me.

He loved taking care of his yard, and had a beautiful lawn and productive garden. I especially remember his sweet corn, walnuts, cherries, and raspberries.
He loved sports, cold cereal, and chili. He would often make a huge pot of chili and invite all of the family over for a chili party.

He was happy, easygoing, hardworking, and loving. He left a great example and legacy for his posterity to follow.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ah, the Holidays!

Before another holiday comes and goes, here's a look at how we've been spending our holidays/birthdays since Thanksgiving. Just fair warning, this is a lengthy post!


Angie and Hyrum came from Chicago to celebrate with us. Rather than doing the whole feast at my house again, we went to Cookie’s house and joined with the Petersons, Martins, and Gessels. It was a fine feast and fun sharing it with so many great people.

A few of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving holiday:

-Driving with just Neal and Austin (who slept the whole time) to the Martin’s house (Sally rode with her auntie and unc). It was fun to talk to Neal without any interruptions. We talked about what we were thankful for. I really felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what I have in my life, including my children, my home, my education, Neal’s education, and our families.

-Making and eating pies. I love making pies, and I had fun making a new kind of pie—it was a free-form apple cranberry pie. I thought it was beautiful and was so proud of it, but I was certainly put in my place when my 10 year old nephew said to me, while pointing to my prized pie: “Hey Emily, I know which one is going to be everyone’s LEAST favorite! I mean…look at the form of it! And all those raisins!” I still get a good laugh when I think about it. The pie was delicious, by the way, and contained no raisins. I’ll be sure to make it again next year and save none for Dallas!

- Going to see the movie “Tangled” with Sally, Angie, and Hyrum. It was Sally’s first in a theater, and a very fun movie. I enjoyed having her snuggle up to me during the scary parts, and seeing her smile and laugh during the silly parts.


We did lots of fun things during the month of December, including ice skating (after an attempt at Crown Center failed due to an incredibly long line, we went to the Independence Events Center with Neal’s family), visiting the tree and train displays at Union Station, shopping at the Plaza (just me and Neal), getting a real Christmas tree, baking lots of stuff and delivering it, checking out some local Christmas lights, and reading lots of Christmas books.

We had a fun Christmas Eve party at our house with lots of our friends lacking family in the area to celebrate with. We had a dinner buffet and program. Every family was asked to either tell a story or perform a musical number. We had a good mix of both, including a reading of the Cajun Night Before Christmas and a violin solo of “O Holy Night”. Then the kids did the nativity play, which was very cute. I’m not sure how everyone felt about having a program (some perhaps thought it was a bit cheesy), but I personally loved it. I guess one benefit of hosting an event is getting to have things your way!

Christmas Day was so fun. I loved enjoying a low-key morning at home with my family and watching my kids open their presents.

A few of my favorite memories of the Christmas season:

-Reading “A Little House Christmas” (an anthology of all of the Christmas chapters from the Little House books) with Sally. I loved being reminded of a simpler time. I couldn’t hold back the tears when I read the chapter about the Christmas horses—a very sweet account of unselfishness and family love.

-Watching “It’s a wonderful Life” with Neal on Christmas Eve night, and crying together during the final scene.

-Rushing off to TJ Maxx at the Legends after calling and finding out that they had one more pair of the exact Marmot gloves that Neal wanted for Christmas, after failing to find them other places. And then seeing him open them up on Christmas morning.

-Learning that Neal had scoured the countryside (and the internet) to find the perfect black dress for my Christmas gift, which he eventually found. While I loved the dress, I even more loved the fact that Neal put so much time and effort into the gift.

-Receiving ANOHTER black dress from my mom. She couldn’t find one to buy me, so she decided to send me her own black dress, which she knew I would like, even though it was one that she herself really liked. I was very touched and felt very loved. Additionally, she sent me enough money to buy myself a black dress of my own choosing (if I didn’t feel like I already had enough black dresses, that is)!

New Year’s Eve/Day:

Neal and I went on a date during the day on New Year’s Eve. We were supposed to go to a movie, but missed the one we wanted and ended up playing arcade games instead. It was not what we expected, but we had a lot of fun. Later, Sally and Neal went to watch “Tangled” (since Neal was working the day after Thanksgiving and missed it) while I prepped our dinner and party food. The party included Neal’s parents, his sister Bonnie, and us. Small but fun. We had homemade pizza, spinach artichoke dip and veggies, and ice cream sundaes. After putting the kids to bed we played a fun word game called “Quiddler”. My new favorite game. The Petersons didn’t last until midnight. I barely lasted myself. After the party left, Neal and I attempted to watch a movie, but I couldn’t follow it and fell asleep.

I currently have no idea what we did on NYD. If I remember I’ll add to this.

Neal’s Birthday:

I tried to make the day very special for Neal, but I don’t know if it worked. Sally and I made cupcakes the day before for Neal to take to work, but it turned out that the department secretary had also brought treats (LOTS of treats), so the cupcakes were not hot items. And while I got him a gift, he didn’t love it—he liked it, but did not love it. Anyhow, Neal turned 31. I tried a new homemade pizza recipe and made a chocolate trifle, which was to die for in my own humble opinion (chocolate bundt cake cubes layered with homemade chocolate pudding and whipped cream). Austin thought so, too, when he grabbed a big handful when Neal got it too close to him. I think his first experience with dessert was a positive one. So I guess there was one bright shining spot in Neal’s day.

My Birthday:

Uneventful except that Neal got me an awesome gift—two North Face coats. He got an awesome price, too, which made me feel less guilty about the gift. One of the coats is a knee-length down parka with a fur-lined hood. I can’t wait to wear it next winter—it will keep me nice and warm. My friend Rosemary brought me some ice cream and a very cute FHE chart that she made for me. She is very thoughtful. Unfortunately Sally and Austin were in bad form. They were both incredibly grumpy after church and cried a good part of the day. The fact that I made cream of roasted carrot soup and spinach salad for dinner didn’t help their moods. I thought it was delicious, though. We ate chocolate Bundt cake leftover from Neal’s birthday that I kept in the freezer. It was just as good.

Valentine’s Day:

I had planned on making Indian food—butter chicken and naan, for dinner, but when Neal called me from work in the early afternoon and asked if I wanted him to bring home some dinner, I agreed and didn’t start on my meal. Things got busy at work for Neal, and he ended up not being able to pick up his takeout after all. Silly me decided to go ahead with my original dinner plan, much, much later than I should have. By the time dinner was actually ready, everyone was starving, the house was a complete mess, and I wasn’t feeling the love of the day (like I did earlier when two friends unexpectedly popped in with some Valentine treats). The meal was okay, but not awesome, so I felt a little down about that, and I also was feeling guilty for not making any Valentines for anyone like I have always done in the past—sugar cookies, truffles, homemade cards, etc. By the time the kids were in bed and the gargantuan mess I had made in the kitchen was cleaned up, the day got better. Neal gave me a gift that I’d had my eye on for a while—a dessert decorator (it does the job of a pastry bag, but is a tube with a plunger and different screw-on tips). He also surprised me with homemade Italian sodas. We watched our wedding slide show and looked over notes that we had written to each other when we were dating. It was a lot of fun and really got me laughing hard—something I don’t do as much as I used to. I’m not sure why that is.

Austin’s Birthday:

We invited some friends over for a low-key party for little Austin C. I had grand aspirations like I always do, but decided to keep things simple, especially because the party was planned kind of last-minute (my parents were supposed to be in town but ended up canceling their trip). Sometimes even really simple isn’t all that simple—I was in the kitchen a good portion of the day. I made a chocolate cake and yellow cupcakes, and had fun decorating them with my gift from the previous day. The chocolate cake was very tasty, but the cupcakes were just fair. Just FYI, I LOVE the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but if you have it, don’t bother making their recipe for simple yellow cupcakes. It isn’t that great. Anyhow, I digress. I found inspiration in Austin’s favorite blanket for decorating the cake and cupcakes. The blanket is brown with green, blue, and tan polka dots. He loves it like Linus from Charlie Brown loves his blanky. We had a great turn-out at the party, and it was a lot of fun having our friends and their children celebrate with us. Sally and Austin both love being around other kids. Austin loved his cupcake. He put a death grip on it, and didn’t let go until it was all gone, which wasn’t long. Austin is such a fun, sweet, and delightful little guy. It is amazing how fast his infancy flew by! I hope he felt loved on his birthday—we sure love him!


The day before Easter we attended an egg hunt followed by lunch at the Longmore’s house, and had a lot of fun. Sally knew the drill from the past two years of egg hunts in my backyard and collected more eggs than she knew what to do with, but Austin was content to fill his basket with leaves and dirt. I had fun socializing and not being the host (THANKS, Rosemary!). I really enjoyed Easter Sunday, as well. I taught the lesson in RS (I don’t remember why), and the lesson went well and I felt the Spirit. After church we enjoyed a quick family photo shoot and lunch with a little more style than usual. I brought out the white tablecloth and spring table runner, and we ate pb&js cut into flower shapes, leftover salad I had made for the party the day before, and fruit and yogurt parfaits garnished with fresh blackberries. I think Neal thought I was somewhat silly, but in my book, holidays should not feel like any other day, even when eating lunch after church.

My favorite part of the day was watching the Easter declaration video on LDS.org and “The Lamb of God” video with Sally while Austin napped. I think that Sally understands a lot about the gospel at her young age, and I love being able to have experiences with her that allow us both to feel the Spirit and learn about the Savior. In the evening we went to Blue Springs and enjoyed dinner with Neal’s parents, two youngest brothers, and his sister Cookie and her family. Sally and Austin had a great time playing with their cousins. It was fun watching Sally and Allyson play in the hammock while playing HORSE with Dallas with the Nerf basketball set. Dallas is a lot of fun. After returning home, Neal and I watched part of “The Ten Commandments”, an Easter tradition from my childhood. It was the perfect way to end a great holiday.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


About a month ago I had a friend take some pictures of Sally and Austin. Since she put the highlights on her blog, I'll just send you there rather than do the work of posting the pictures myself.

I think she did a great job, and I got just what I wanted (except a shot of the two of them smiling at the camera, but that was probably asking too much).

On a side note, I'm thinking of giving up blogging, but I'm torn. Any thoughts?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What I Do

I think it's time to dust off my blog. Here's a little something I wrote late at night several weeks ago.

When I was a student:
I went to class every day. I studied hard. I wrote papers. I took tests. I turned in my homework on time. I got A’s. I got to know my professors. I sat on the front row. I made friends with my classmates. I learned. I stayed in the library until it closed. I knew what was expected of me, I did it, I saw the results I wanted, and I felt good about what I had done.

What I was a full-time employee:
I went to work every day. I worked hard. I wrote programs. I learned. I got bonuses. I got raises. I sat in my cube all day. I went to meetings and helped make decisions about my projects. I met my deadlines. I followed the rules. I made friends with my coworkers. I stayed at work long after the janitors went home. I took my computer home with me and worked more. I knew what was expected of me, I did it, I was respected for it, and I felt good about what I was able to do.

Now that I’m a mother:
I take care of two children every day. I work hard. I make meals. I wipe bottoms. I play with toys. I sit on the floor. I wear out my jeans. I am tested. I make rules, which are sometimes broken. I stay up long after they have gone to bed. I teach, but mostly I learn. I get to know other moms. I make friends with baby dolls and teddy bears. I know what is expected of me (kind of), I try to do it (but sometimes fail), and I feel good about what I am doing. And I wouldn't trade my time with these little ones for the world.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Today is full of blessings.

I woke up this morning with my husband, a definite change from the usual routine, especially since he is on call today. A work-related symposium made his sleeping-in possible, and we both enjoyed resting together. It was warm rather than cold in the house when we got up.

I spent the morning reading to and playing with my children. They were happy and affectionate.

I baked a cake with my daughter. She was enthusiastic and helpful. She tried so hard to do things exactly how I asked her to. She was so excited when I let her lick some batter.

I watched General Conference and was thrilled that my husband came home during the brief time between the end of the symposium and the time he had to report for duty at the hospital. We watched and learned together, then ate lunch as a family.

My son looked cuter than ever in his “big boy” clothes today. He wore flip flops for the first time and reminded me of his daddy. My daughter’s hair was especially full and curly today, and she pranced around so happily in her spring dress I couldn’t help but feel happy every time I looked at her.

I made the hour drive to my sister-in-law’s house with my children this afternoon. Both children were calm and content. The hour felt like 20 minutes.

It was so warm and pleasant sitting on the deck visiting with my in-laws. Even though my husband was working and not with us, I was loved and welcomed like a true blooded member of the family. I always am. My children had great fun playing with their cousins. My three-year-old niece wanted to help me carry things from my car. My five-year-old niece went out of her way to find toys that my son would like to play with.

My sister-in-law gave me some dresses for my daughter which her daughter has outgrown. She also let me borrow her brand new DVD of “Tangled” just because she likes to do nice things that make people happy.

I drove home with my children and sang Primary songs to them for most of the way home. I’m not sure what they felt as I sang to them, but I felt love and joy and peace. The weather was turning nasty as we made our way home, but I felt safe and calm.

I put my kids to bed and then watched the parts of General Conference that I had missed. I felt such a great love and admiration for the leaders of the Church. I felt a desire to do better, but more importantly, to be better. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ’s true church. I want to help other people find the joy that I have.

I read some updates on a website for my uncle Dan who is battling cancer. I felt close to my family as I read their messages to my uncle and added my own. I sorrowed for my uncle, but felt peace as I recalled the healing power of Jesus Christ. I love my family and feel great joy in knowing that families are eternal.

Was today perfect? No. Did I do or say anything I shouldn’t have? Of course, I always do. But today is a good day, and full of blessings. Every day is full of blessings. Do I always see them? No. I wrote this to remind myself to look for them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best and Worst

Every night for the past year or so Neal and I have been asking Sally two questions: "What was the best part of your day?", and "What was the worst part of your day?" Her answers are often predictable, many times sweet, and occasionally give us great insight into the workings of her little mind. I'll have to record some of her responses.

But for now, since Neal is on call, I'll make a quick post out of sharing the best and worst parts of my day:

Worst: shortly after breakfast, Sally and Austin were nicely playing by the back door when Sally exclaimed: "Yuck! Mommy, come see what Austin did!" I rushed over to discover that the contents of Austin's diaper (which I had very recently changed) were dribbling down his leg and onto the floor. He was quickly whisked away into the bathtub, and the floor was scrubbed. No fun for anyone involved (except for, perhaps, Sally, who liked drama), but really not that bad. I'll take that over vomit any day!

Best: I'm not sure I can choose--it's been a good day! Since I have to, though, I'll say that it was dinner with a new friend in my ward and her little girl who's a few months younger than Austin. I often invite someone over for dinner when Neal is away, and it is always fun. I think everyone had a good time tonight. Austin and Sally loved playing with their new friend, I enjoyed talking with my new friend, everyone enjoyed their meal, and no one cried, fought over toys, threw food on the floor, or acted unpleasantly in any way. I'm so thankful to have good kids and good friends to share warm springtime evenings with.

Two more thoughts for the evening:

I don't always or only post when Neal is on call. It is just the easiest time for me to post, and therefore the most common time for me to do so.

Totally unrelated to anything in this post: Sally has a pink teddy bear that she pretends is her husband Neal. The other day with said bear in hand she said: "Mommy, my husband's grandma is my mother." While I do read with Sally quite a bit, I've yet to read Oedipus to her, nor do I intend to. She came up with that one on her own!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

I started this post, oh, 6 weeks ago? Maybe longer, I'm not sure. Time to get it out there and move on with my life!

Neal is on call (hard to believe?) and I've already stayed up much later than I wanted to working, so what is a few more minutes? Every time Neal is on call I intend to blog, end up catching up on reading blogs instead, and then go to bed feeling grumpy with myself. Enough of that. Not tonight.

There should be pictures to accompany each section, but I don't want to stay up quite that late! I suppose that will have to wait for another post. It won't be long before Neal is on call again!

So, without further adieu, the Peterson top 10 of 2010:

Austin joining the family:

We are so blessed to have Austin in our family. He is so happy, smiley, easy-going, and energetic. I love his laugh, the ways he makes us laugh, his big happy grin, his curiosity, his big blue eyes, and his very kiss-able cheeks (I probably over-do the kisses, but I can hardly help myself). He is growing up so fast and getting so independent and capable. A little of what he is like these days:

He is fast becoming a walker. He can walk across a room if he feels like it, but is mostly content with walking 4-5 steps and then crawling to his destination. He’s been taking steps since he was a little more than 10 months.

He loves to climb up onto things and is quite good at it. He has lately learned how to safely climb down, as well, which is a big relief.

He likes to give kisses and hugs. He will give kisses on command most of the time.

He still has only two teeth, but knows well how to use them.

He likes to hide under blankets, be chased around the recliner, and share his binky and food. He thinks it is hilarious to shove his binky into Neal’s mouth.

He is very vocal and is becoming more so almost every day. I can tell that he really wants to communicate.

He loves to put lids on things. He can amuse himself for quite some time by simply putting a lid on a container, taking it off, and repeating over and over again.

*Changes since I wrote this--he's been a full-fledged walker for quite some time, and he has 2 more teeth. Also, the day after my post about Austin's illness, he bounced back. It only took a few days for him to be back to his old self. He must have really missed food while he was sick, because he's been eating double ever since!

A visit from my parents and sisters in the spring:

I had a wonderful time with my family when they came out for Austin’s blessing. It was a rare treat to have nearly my whole immediate family together (Spencer was sorely missed) without me having to make the trek out to Utah.

A Neal and Emily getaway:

In November Neal got to go to an anesthesia conference for work and decided the he wanted me to go along for the ride. He made arrangements with his sister Cookie to watch our children, bought me a plane ticket, and promised me a good time. I was excited but reluctant to go, especially when the week before the conference Austin got sick and wanted me to hold him almost every waking hour. Thanks to Austin recovering and Neal’s faith in everything working out, I decided to go.

I went and didn’t regret it. The conference was in Phoenix at a mountain resort with lots of pools and hiking opportunities. We had fun swimming, hiking, relaxing, and visiting our friends Travis and Cami Austin. We also visited the Mesa temple, went to a dinner and rodeo event (hosted by the conference), ate at a fun Greek restaurant, went to an art fair, and experienced a delightful treat knows as a “Bahama-rama-mamma” (a cross between a snow cone and an ice cream cone).
Neal was right that everything would work out fine. Austin and Sally both did very well while we were away, and we pickup up right where we left off when we got back.

Neal starting his anesthesia training:

In July Neal completed his intern year in internal medicine and entered the world of anesthesia. Quality of life instantly improved. I love that he is off on the weekends (unless he is on call, which unfortunately has happened quite a bit lately), doesn’t have to do discharge summaries every evening, gets home early on pre-call days, and likes his job…all of which leads to my next item:

More dates and family activities:

Neal and I have gotten out together on our own a lot more this year than we have since Sally was born. I think it is due to a combination of us being more comfortable with getting babysitters and Neal having more time. We have also been asked a few times by some friends to swap babysitting with them, and that has helped, as well. A few of my favorite dates: Beauty and the Beast at the Starlight Theater (even though it was the hottest night of the year, we had a great time and a memorable snow cone), dinner and shopping at the Country Club Plaza (thank you anesthesia department for your generous Christmas gift), hiking at the Overland Park Arboretum, and basketball, skee-ball, and air hockey at Power Play.

We have also been able to get out more as a family. I suppose in addition to Neal having more time, this is due to Sally being able to do more, and my purchase of a Happenings book to give us some good ideas and a little push to get out and try new things. We’ve enjoyed eating out here and there, but mostly we just enjoy taking walks, visiting parks, shopping, and doing errands together.

New friends:

Neal and I have made several new friends this year through both church and work. I won’t mention any names—hopefully you know who you are! We’ve had a lot of fun playing games, celebrating holidays, and just getting together to let our kids play together. While we will have to say good-bye to some of these friends in the near future, I’m sure (or at least I hope) that we’ll stay in touch for years to come. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends (both old and new) that share my values and care about me and my family.

House projects completed:

In January we got new carpet in our house, and I absolutely love it. Not only does it look 10 times better than our old carpet, it is softer, thicker, and more durable. This year we also got a new fence (a while picket one made from scratch by Neal), a new cabinet in our laundry room (stained and installed by Neal, of course), and new leather furniture (it was intended to go in the family room, but since it won’t fit through the door, it is in the living room).

Christmas at home:

For the first time in our marriage, Neal and I stayed home on Christmas morning. It was a lot of fun and may become a new tradition. We did things on our own schedule (rather, Sally’s schedule—she slept in late), didn’t have to haul gifts around, and just enjoyed being together. It was so much fun for Neal and me to set things up the night before, to see the excitement on Sally’s face when she came into the living room, and to see Austin enjoying the excitement in the comfort of his own home where he is at his best.

Street improvements:

Since we bought our house in 2006, the city of Overland Park had been promising improvements to our street, including sidewalks, storm drainage pipes (as opposed to the ditch), new streetlights, and new pavement. Well, in 2010 it finally happened. It was at times painfully annoying (at times workers worked round the clock with loud machinery, and more than once I was denied access to my house in the summer with sleeping kids and icecream in the car). But all that is behind us. The work is done, and the result was worth it. Kind of silly that this made the top 10 list, but I LOVE our sidewalk, and the absence of the ditch has made mowing so much nicer for Neal. I’m a huge fan of anything that will make it easier for us to sell our house later, and I think this will help a lot.

A beautiful friendship:

Sally and I have always had a good relationship, but in 2010 she matured and grew in so many ways that have made our relationship even better. Sally is such a sweetie, and I have so much fun with her. She is a great companion: helpful, talkative, thoughtful, polite, fun, and obedient (most of the time--she is 3, afterall). She often amazes me with how much she understands, how much she remembers, and how much she notices. Sally and I have a lot in common, which sometimes results in us butting heads, but also makes for a great friendship.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Want my Baby Back!

I’ve found that I have a knack for cursing myself. When Sally was small (older than one, but not yet two), I made an observation that I had never been up all night with a crying child. A few days later, it happened. When Sally was barely two, I was talking to a friend about how lucky I was that Sally had never thrown up (spit up not included). A few days later, she threw up 3 times on the airplane and in the airport on the way to Utah. Recently a friend of mine was stuck inside for about a week with sick children. I though to myself how lucky I was that such a thing had never happened to me. I should have just not thought about it at all.

Last Sunday Austin wasn’t himself at church. Instead of squirming and trying to run away and play in the curtains in Sunday School, he was content to sit on my lap. For Austin, that is just weird. The story was the same in RS, except that by the end of the meeting, he was moaning and feeling kind of hot. I wasn’t too worried, just thought he was coming down with a cold or starting to get some new teeth. The next afternoon when I took him into the doctor for his 12 month well-baby appointment the doctor said that it looked like he had an ear infection, and prescribed him amoxicillin. After he got his three standard shots, we were on our way. I thought that the problem was solved, but it was all downhill from there.

When Neal went in to check on the kids before going to bed on Monday night, he discovered that Austin was drowning in a pool of his own vomit. He was sleeping soundly, but drowning in vomit nonetheless. Thus began 5 days (and counting?) of endless vomiting and diarrhea for the poor child. On Tuesday he had quite a high fever (perhaps due to the shots) and wanted nothing but to be held by mommy. I called my doctor because I thought he might be reacting poorly to the amoxicillin, but was told to keep giving it to him, despite the fact that he threw it up every time he was given a dose. On Wednesday the fever was gone, but he otherwise showed no improvement. Early Thursday morning, Sally threw up, and then the bug hit me on Thursday afternoon just as we were about to leave to see the doctor. Other than being told that there is a bug going around and to continue pushing fluids, the visit to the doctor was less than helpful, which I suspected would be the case.

While Sally seems to have made a full recovery (as early as Friday morning), Austin is still not keeping much of anything down. While I think that he does have some kind of bug, I also firmly believe that the amoxicillin has something to do with his vomiting. Even though there is a shot that can be given in place of the amoxicillin, for some reason that I can’t understand, I’ve been encouraged not to go that route.

I just want my baby back! He hasn’t walked in days, he barely talks, he isn’t very interested in toys, and he feels so limp and weak in my arms. I know that this will pass, but this has certainly been a hard week with lots of worry.

The washing machine has been doing overtime. Between Sally and Austin throwing up, I’ve washed: pillows, sheets, mattress pads, coats, cars seat covers, countless pajamas and onesies, socks, pants, towels, and shoes.

While it has been a hard week, there are some bright spots that I should not overlook.

*I have gotten to hold and snuggle Austin more that I have since he was a tiny baby. I have really enjoyed rocking him and just being close to him.
*Austin’s regular night sleep routine of 8 to 8 has been unaltered. No one around here can complain about a lack of sleep (except for Neal, but it is his own fault. That man doesn’t know how to go to bed). Austin has also been napping longer during the day than usual.
*While it appears to me that Austin is throwing everything up, apparently has he kept in enough fluids not to be classified as a dehydrated baby (according to the nurse practitioner), which keeps him out of the hospital, which I was afraid would be his fate. My sweet baby niece is in the hospital right now, and I feel so blessed that Austin isn’t in her position. We are praying for you, Abby, Scott, and baby Alice!
*Sally has been incredibly sweet and helpful. She is always very helpful, but she has been especially so this week.
*I’ve had more one-on-one time with Sally to read and do “art projects” (a.k.a. I catch up on making and writing thank you cards, and she stamps and glues) while Austin has slept.

I am hearted that Austin perked up somewhat today and kept a little bit of food down (I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it was just a few hours ago that I gave it to him). I’m confident that Austin will make a full recovery soon, and I’ll just keep telling myself that “this, too, shall pass!”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Time to get over it!

One of the curses of being a perfectionist that is far from perfect is having a hard time getting over things that went wrong, whether they matter much or not. Here's hoping that by blogging about my silly mistakes I can stop beating myself up about them.

I don't think I have ever done this before, and I certainly hope I don't do it again. I played the piano in RS today (not uncommon), and for three verses in a row, I played the same two measures incorrecly, all the time knowing that I was playing them incorrectly. It was one of those weird occurrences where I picked a song that I thought was fairly well-known (hymn 148), but when I started playing almost no one sang. It felt weird. And then I started playing wrong things and felt weird and embarrassed. And then I was in a rut and played the same part wrong over again. And then I thought about it all day. And now I'm over it.

Christmas Eve was delightful (more on that later) until I realized that the cheesecake I had made for all of my guests was weird. The texture was not what it should have been because the last block of cream cheese I added simply wouldn't incorporate. It just kind of cumbled into little specks of cream cheese. It had been out on the counter softening for just as long as the rest of the cream cheese had, but it wasn't as new as the others (I guess it was starting to dry out, but I don't think it was terribly old). I've never had such a thing happen in all of my years of baking cheesecakes. I don't think it was any big deal to anyone else, but, silly me, I had a hard time getting over it. But I'm over it now, because my husband still loves me, my friends still seem to like me, the last time I checked I was still capable of making edible food, and I now know never to use cream cheese that may be somewhat old when making a cheesecake.

So, perhaps I'm silly, but I think I'll sleep well tonight!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday night reflections

It’s Saturday night and Neal is on call. The ONLY thing that I wanted to do tonight after my kids were in bed was update my blog. It is now 10:36, 6 minutes past the time that I wanted to be in bed, and I am just now getting to the blog. Instead of blogging, I’ve been baking a chocolate cake and making ice cream base. Why? Because I’m crazy.

Tomorrow we are going to a family party for my brother-in-law Josh, so the cake is for him (I ALWAYS volunteer to make the cake for family birthdays, and most of the time wonder why I didn’t let someone else have a turn). I planned to make it while Austin was napping today, but instead folded two loads of laundry and made jewelry with Sally out of her pop beads (which was a ton of fun, by the way—thanks, Sarah!). I didn’t want to make the cake tomorrow after church because after reading the RS lesson for tomorrow, I’m going to try harder than I have been to avoid much cooking and baking on Sunday. So, after doing the nightly post-bed-time tidying up and odds and ends, I baked a cake.

The ice cream came into the mix because I had some heavy whipping that has been on the verge of going bad for the past few days. I’ve been meaning to turn it into ice cream for quite a while now, but never did (perhaps because I’ve been surrounded by so many desserts and sweets lately)—until the night I was supposed to blog. I figured since I was in the kitchen already, one extra recipe would be no big deal. And it wasn’t, until I burned my finger whisking hot cream into an egg yolk and realized how late it was getting.

So, what I meant to blog about will have to wait. What follows is something that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a long time. It is part 2 of “My life is good.” So, without further detail about my adventures in sweet-making, here it is:

A few months ago Neal and I were talking with some friends and were asked the question, “Are you sick of living like students yet?” I honestly didn’t know what to say. I was totally caught off-guard by the question. I never ever considered us to be living like students (what does that even mean, anyway?). I don’t remember exactly how I answered the question, but it was something to the effect that while there are things that we would like to have someday that we don’t have now, we are pretty comfortable with our lifestyle. When we got home, Neal and I shared a good laugh.

I’ve since thought a lot about the question, and the more I think about it, the more I feel that my life is good. Neal and I own a home and have lots of equity in it. The home may be small, but it is adequate, modern, and in good repair. Other than our mortgage, we have no loans of any kind. We have never had any trouble paying any of our bills (not even a large bill for an expensive ER visit during the short window of time that I had bad health insurance). We have two cars (albeit old cars) that work well (siblings, spare me your criticism of Reggie—he is a reliable machine!). We go on vacations, buy new clothes and shoes, buy the kind of food we want, eat out when we want to, buy new furniture, etc. Of course there are things that I would do differently if I had more money, but I don’t feel like I am suffering for the want of anything right now. I honestly feel like Neal and I have been incredibly blessed in our life together.

So, while some may disagree (even many who know us and know how we live), I submit that we do not live like students, but like middle-class Americans. And I’d like to think that even if we did live like students, we’d still be happy.

We’ll see what I have to say about this when we are making 10 times what we are now (which is hard for me to fathom)…