Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Wedding Post All About the Five Year Old

Miles submitted a Reflections entry in school a couple of months ago.  His kindergarten teacher took a day and had every child draw a picture and write a sentence on this year's theme: 

The World Would Be a Better Place If... 

It was all done in class and then submitted by his teacher, so I haven't seen his entry yet - but Mrs. P. pulled me aside one afternoon last month to tell me all about it and went so far as to say 'I hope he wins the competition, because it was my absolute favorite.' 

Apparently, Miles believes that The World Would Be a Better Place If... more people got married.  I guess he drew a beautiful picture of a bride and groom standing in front of the temple, complete with a grassy hill, spires, and funky, multicolored wedding clothes. 

Before submitting it, Mrs. P. tried to help him clarify his ideas.  "Do you mean that the world would be a better place if more people who are already married stayed married?  Because I definitely agree with that..."
"No," Miles responded, probably confused at the idea that some people who are already married don't stay married. "Just that if more people got married."

Miles had been deeply touched by my sister Michelle's wedding back in November.  He talked about the 'happiness' of it frequently, and gratitude for marriage showed up in his prayers for at least six weeks afterwards ('thank you for people getting married', 'please bless us all to get married so we can be happy', 'thank you that we can get married and go to heaven').  

So he was thrilled when he realized we were going back to Utah for another wedding.  This time to celebrate Brian's little brother, Dave, getting married to Michelle (obviously a different Michelle than the Michelle that is my sister).

Dave and Michelle opted to have a wedding dinner the night before the wedding.  Brian and I officially uninvited Timothy and sent him packing to my parents house for the night since, you know, Timothy is two and behaves like a Terrible when we're supposed to be adult-ish.  We then had a formal meeting (in the parking lot seconds before we walked in) with the other three kids about Appropriate Behavior and begged them to please 'behave as much like an adult as you can'.  
"Before you do anything," I pleaded, "please think of how it would look if Daddy was doing that exact same thing.  That means, no climbing on chairs, no bouncing in your seat, no making loud noises, never should your feet be above your head..."  by this time I had completely lost them because they were buckled in laughter picturing Brian making loud noises with his feet above his head.

"I hope that didn't just backfire," I muttered to Brian as we walked through the doors.  
It didn't.  They behaved like boring old adults.  

It was sweet to hear from Michelle's family and to get to know her a little bit better through their eyes.  She is a sweetheart and I'm excited to have another sister-in-law as part of the family. 

The next morning, we all got in our pretties and headed out to the temple.

The ceremony was beautiful, and there were some happy people to greet us when we came back out.

Now, at this point, I really feel I should warn you:  This post should definitely be about Dave and Michelle... but Miles kind of hijacks the whole thing.  He was just so stinkin' cute - both on the inside and outside - that I couldn't keep my camera away from him for more than a bit.

And, besides, Michelle and Dave had hired a photographer that was so amazing that I felt no guilt turning my attention to that little red head of curls that bounced and bounced and bounced through the entire day.

 Carson wanted in on the running action, too.

Eventually the call was heard, 'The bride and groom are almost coming!' and so we ran to welcome them.

But, of course, we waited for a few more minutes before they actually came out.

But they did eventually come out, and we all cheered and hugged.

Then we all stood around and waited to get our pictures taken in Groups of Meaning.  (This next one might be my favorite shot of the whole day, by the way.)

The kids were being so cooperative with the camera I just couldn't stop.  Because my kids are generally so not cooperative with the camera.

Mary, Dave, and Heidi were cooperative with the camera, too.

Eventually, we all got tired of standing around...

...and went back to Grandma's house for some lunch.  But all too soon it was time to get back into our pretties to head over to the reception.  This was the first thing that Timothy was invited to... and at this point, he hijacked my pictures because, look how adorable.

He was not as cooperative with the camera because he behaves like a Terrible and can't. stop. moving. for. even. one. ninetieth. of. a. second.  (Which is as fast as I could take my shutter since it was so frustratingly dark for pictures (but beautifully moody for a reception (which I guess was the point))).

The three Alder brothers.  I love these men...

Hot Chocolate bar?  Why didn't I know about this for my own reception? (Though, perhaps it wouldn't have been so popular for an outside-in-August reception?)

But, anyway, let's end on the point of this whole post... Dave and Michelle.  They were there too, you know.  And they were beautiful together.

Miles has a lot of wisdom in that five-year-old mind of his.  And, I agree with him.  I think the world would be a better place if more people got married.  Because, when done right, I think marriage is all about sacrifice and serving.  About loving another person and thinking about their needs above your own.  This world could use more of that.  And loving and feeling loved in return is one of the happiest feelings on earth. 

Congratulations, Dave and Michelle!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just Call Us Framily

The new year started for us with a weekend of beautiful moments.  We piled in the car on New Years Day and headed to the gorgeous mountains of Arizona where the Birdnos live. Our anticipation of seeing their familiar, happy smiles had grown exponentially for the 21 hours before our departure because the first hour in that set of 21 marked the very hour we were planning to leave.  But a heavy snowstorm had swooped in and the highway to their home had been closed, leaving us packed and ready with nowhere to go.    

So you can imagine our excitement 21 hours later when the road closure lifted, and you can imagine our greater excitement 25 hours later when we pulled up to their snowy house and were swept up in their hugs.  

The Birdnos moved to North Carolina the exact same week that we did, and we became instant friends. We helped each other through pregnancies and through losses, through a triathlon and through a scary hospital emergency, through so many happy times and, simply put, through the thickness of those tender years when we were just learning how to be adults and parents.  Cami is one of The Incredible people in my life, and I feel I owe most of my own patience to her example.  

It's been over a decade since that first hello. We've added 8 more children to the mix, and several wrinkles and grey hairs--- and I feel lucky, because I can see the friendships thriving among our growing children, and I know that there are hundreds of wrinkles and grey hairs waiting to paint the decades of our future. 

I love the Birdnos - and spending a weekend with them filled the whole first days of January with countless beautiful moments. 

Most of those moments happened in the new fallen snow.  Sledding, hiking, trail blazing, snowball fighting, snow angels... it was refreshing to spend so many hours outside and it filled me right up.

This guy wasn't so sure at first about the whole idea of careening down a mountain on a tube.  But after he tried it once, he was sure:

Not. Fun.

His tears were soothed and we didn't make him try again.  But after a couple of hours watching everyone else, he grabbed the string of one of the sleds and toddled through the snow (in the most adorable way because, clunky winter boots) to put it in my hand.  He then made his way back to the sled and, looking like a giant, awkward, mixture of blueberry and marshmallow, plopped down and motioned for me to 'pull'.  I pulled him all over on the top of that hill, slowly at first, and eventually running as fast as I could manage--- his squeals of laughter propelling my energy. Before long, I was sitting on the sled behind him, nose pointed down the hill, listening to his laughter as we flew to towards the bottom.
"Gehn! gehn! gehn!" he said once we stopped.
"Yes, we can go again," I replied.
Being a Daddy's Boy, he was interested in going down with "Da-Dee" and Daddy was more than happy to do so.  But after a couple of runs together, he reached to me from Brian's arms and, in a moment of heart-stopping sweetness said, "Ma-mee. Go."  He rarely chooses me when Daddy is an option, and I made sure to take note of that incredibly beautiful moment and to tuck it into the small category of 'See... He does Love You, Too'.

Before we pushed off from the top, he arched his neck around to say, "Koh. Koh. Koh. Koh."
"It is cold, isn't it?" I replied.  He smiled, reached his mittened hands up and pulled the brim of his red hat down over his pink face in preparation.  Ready to go.  I smiled at his problem solving skills, and we flew down the mountain together.

The other kids didn't seem to have a learning curve.  They were at it from the very beginning.

That night, we left the kids to their own devices (um... kids who are old enough to babysit?  Life Changing) so that we four adults could take our own hike through the beautiful mountains and have some uninterrupted conversations.  But we must have missed the childlike energy because we wasted no time assuming the roles ourselves. We did a few donuts in the truck, climbed to an impressively tiny cave, slid down giant rocks, got the seats of our snowpants dirty from sliding down the mountain, and spent some time trying to push over the Lightning Tree (which did not budge).

The next day, we took the kids on the same hike and watched them trail blaze their way up the sides of the mountains--- feeling like they were going where no kid had gone before as they stepped fresh footprints in the untouched snow.  They created their own sledding trails and climbed up their own pathways and encouraged each other whenever one found something 'really awesome'.

I love the Birdnos --- or, Birdnoses, as Miles calls them.

This next collage smells sweetly of friendship to me.  My kids aren't going to be lucky enough to have cousins around through their little-kid years, and for a long time that saddened me.  But one day, years ago, I looked around at the children who are in my kids' lives and I realized that my kids haven't missed out one bit.

Driving with a mixture of Birdno and Alder kids in the back of the van, I heard sweet six-year-old Lynneah say to Miles, "Are you my family?"
"Ummm..." came Miles's reply, "I don't think so."
"But," retorted Lynneah, "I think that maybe we are."
"But...no...? But family is like brothers, and like sisters, and like cousins... so I don't think we are."
I smiled at the sweetness and turned around in my seat to help them in their conversation, "I can tell you what you are... You guys are framily.  Friends that love each other so much that you're just. like. family... framily."

This sparked a spirited conversation in which the phrases "Fruncle Brian" and "Frant Lindsay" were thrown out, and 10-year-old Josh turned to Carson and said, "Hey, wait!  That makes you... my frousin!  Hi frousin!"
A chorus of 'hi frousin!'s echoed through the car and left me choking back the lump in my throat.

Everyone needs a frousin.

After all, who else would sit quietly through church to teach Miles how to write the word 'butt' in cursive?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Kind of Beauty

So, you've probably heard but, the year ended recently.  One more dizzyingly fast lap around the sun; one more mark notched into the stone of life. 

Last year I made a goal to harvest the beauty around me.  I spent the whole year looking, and seeing, and capturing what I could in as many photos as it took.  I gathered and edited and combined those pictures and I posted them here (more or less monthly) so I could always remember what I found in my year of harvesting beauty.   

It was easy at first.  Reeeeeeeeeeeeeally easy.  At the end of those early months it would pain me to have to whittle down all of those beautiful beach pictures to my 31 favorite.  But recently it's been much harder and it feels like my fingernails are scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with 31 that even make the cut. 

I anticipated this.  But even with that anticipation, it has surprised me how much I miss that easy beauty.    

I feel lucky that I started searching for beauty when it was easy and abundant--- because all of that positive reinforcement helped turn that Searching-For-Beauty frame of mind into a habit.  And now, even though it's rather discouraging sometimes, I find myself consistently looking for and noticing The Beautiful around me. And the remarkable thing is that, even though I feel I'm always scraping the bottom of the barrel, I still have never come up empty handed.

And that, in and of itself, is beautiful to me.  

I've loved working in this goal.  It has changed me, ever so slightly, into a better person. And I most certainly am renewing my contract with it.  But just as life changes and grows, I think it's time to shift my focus a bit.  Instead of searching for the visual beauty in my days and capturing them in pictures, I want to search now for the beautiful moments instead, and I want to capture them in words.  

Because I love my life.  I love the people in my life.  I love the stories in my life and the feelings in my life. And I want noticing and harvesting those to become the new habit.    

And I'm hoping to find that, just as the Visual Beauty was easy and abundant on the beaches of Miami, the Beautiful Moments are here in the desert.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

December Harvest

1 - Oh the joy!  On the way to the mailbox with my favorite little friend to deposit Christmas Cards.  It made me happy to have someone else share deeply in my excitement.  And I didn't feel bad at all that it was a five year old - because they're the best at sharing excitement.  

2 -My children will be the first to tell you that I'm not big on screen-time.  But the way that screen lit up Miles's face in that dim room?  Beautiful!
3 - Candy canes are not only delicious, they really are beautiful if you stop and look at them.  And they taste even more beautiful when you dunk them in steaming, homemade hot cocoa.
4 - Sparkle!
5 - Christmas Eve.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I walked around on my knees upstairs late on Christmas Eve to get a feel for what my kids might feel and see the next morning.  This was my favorite view and made me want to run into the room they were sleeping in and yell "Santa came!  Santa came!  Getupgetupgetup!" even though it was only midnight.
6 - My beautiful boy.
7 - I stood in the same spot for 12 minutes while crowds of people swarmed around me so I could get a picture of the train going through the tunnel.
8 - It's true that I'm having a hard time finding beautiful things here in Vegas... but the energy of downtown is pretty fun.
9 - Bellagio gardens.  That tree is real, folks.  I don't even know how they got it in or out of there, but I'm glad I wasn't on the vacuuming committee.

10 - Hiking in the red rocks.  Isn't the light coming through that crevice gorgeous?!  And the way it lights up the rocks and the sand...?  Beautiful.

11 - Layers.

12 - Ever since I was a kid I've loved blown glass.  The foyer in the Bellagio has its entire ceiling covered in it - impressive and stunning.
13 - Kids getting along under the Christmas tree - happy beauty.
14 - I'm just realizing that this picture doesn't actually belong in December... because technically it was taken very first thing in January.  The start of a new year feels beautiful to me.
15 - Hot chocolate bar.  One of the most beautiful things of all.  Milk, thick and creamy, pumpkin spice, and peppermint white hot chocolate kept us warm and happy on New Years Eve.
16 - Happy New Year!
17 - Okay, back to real December.  Cactus lights... there is something beautiful and unique to the desert!
18 - Carson got a new guitar for Christmas this year.  Hearing him play and sing... there aren't even words. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.
19 - My love.
20 - Gorgeous colors.

21 - It's a good thing he is so darn beautiful... because he's also testing boundaries and exploring his curiosity with a determination that none of my other children have had.  At the end of my days, I'll collapse on the couch and think, "What in the world happened to me to make me so exhausted today?"  And then I remember, "Timothy.  Timothy happened to me."

22 - Sweet compassion.  If I'm thirsty, TK thinks, then the dog might be thirsty, too.
23 - My favorite new ornament this year.  A (glass, of course) beautiful alligator to remind us of the Everglades.
24 - This, perhaps, should have been in the first collage... decorating for Christmas.  Somehow the lights dangling down from over the fireplace hit me and made me smile.
25 - More Bellagio gardens. Those ornaments were as big as me (though, hopefully they were a little rounder than I am).
26 - Only Timothy could make getting into Daddy's shaving cream beautiful.  At least he had the perspective to strip down to his diaper before the fun.  Too bad he forgot to shut the shower door so the bathmats wouldn't get creamed.  And how he did all of it in the three minutes I left him alone?  Magic.
27 - Pretty ornaments.
28 - New garland for my mantle this year.
29 - TK helping grandma set the table for our Christmas Eve dinner.  It's beautiful watching grandparents love my kids.
30 - More cactus lights.

31 - Beautiful chunks of my heart right there in front of you.