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.