As Noah got older, I couldn't keep that up anymore, so I started writing a monthly update featuring the highlights.
Then Sally was born, and with two kids I couldn't even manage a monthly update, so it's now become quarterly.
(I am thinking that if we have a third child, it will become bi-annually--if at all--so hey, quarterly is better than nothing!)
So here's the quick-ish recap of the Nielsons' Second Quarter (April, May, and June):
|Easter jams! The cutest!|
|Duck onesie and Bunny shirt from Grandma|
|She wanted to eat the confetti eggs|
|Noah wanted to smash them!|
|Easter Eve lanterns|
|And sky lanterns!|
|The new dryer! So happy!|
|Piles and piles of clean laundry to fold|
Noah finished up his first year of preschool with a Mother's Day Spring Sing. He loved preschool. I'm so glad I stuck with it even though he cried and was resistant for the first few weeks of the year. I really respect his teachers and love their methods, and he learned so much--letters, patriotic songs, manners, information about the solar system, dinosaurs, animals, and of course social skills.
|So proud at the Spring Sing|
|Mrs. Warren and Mrs. Sanger|
He can't wait for the school year to start again, and I am actually going to put him in five-days-a-week preschool next year. He will go three mornings a week at his current preschool and two afternoons a week at a small in-home preschool run by a friend. When I first decided to do this, I felt a little guilty--like, am I a bad mom for sending my four-year-old to five days of preschool? But Noah is so very social, and since he doesn't have any siblings who can play with him yet, he wants me to play with him all day. I love to play with him, but I also want to get some other things done during the day. A two-hour break every day will be good for both of us, and it means less screen time for him as well. So I'd say win-win, and I am not going to feel guilty about it.
One of my dearest friends Nelda got married in Logan, Utah, and Ryan and I took the kids for the event. I have known Nelda for ten years (she was in my study abroad group in El Salvador), and she is the truest of true friends. It was so wonderful to celebrate her big day with her.
|I love this hermana|
|I love the look in Nelda's eyes here as my kids go crazy at her reception. Like, "Is this really what my future holds??"|
|With a scab on his nose from falling off his bike, obv|
I am determined to enjoy being a stay-at-home mom more, so I've been searching out ideas for day-trips and outings. I've compiled a big list, and we try to do at least one outing per week. I am only brave enough to attempt these outings on Ryan's day off so he can come with us. (I can barely handle two children by myself at home, let alone on an epic adventure--and by "epic adventure," I mean a 45-minute drive.) From this list of outings, we have found some real gems and some real duds. And we almost always get lost searching for these little-known places, but hey, it makes the stories so much better--in retrospect!
|This is how Noah felt about getting lost for an hour as we searched for this humming bird sanctuary--I felt the same way!|
|It was pretty cool to watch the hummingbirds once we got there|
|Some of our adventures end up like this|
|Cauldron Linn for date-night because it's too dangerous for the kiddos--no railings|
|Twin Falls Museum|
|Cool old merry-go-round|
|We love hiking!|
|Canyon bottom--we saw about 10 base jumpers jumping off the bridge with their colorful parachutes|
|Tired happy girl|
|Relaxing in the hammock after a long day of adventuring|
Ryan bought me a ginormous tent for Mother's Day to make more of these adventures possible. We call this baby Hotel Nielson. We haven't actually used it to camp yet, but we plan to later this summer. I asked him if this is a hint that he wants a bunch more kids? ;)
Did you know that I was a camp counselor every summer all through high school and college? I planned tons of activities for my campers, and then I went to El Salvador and volunteered in an orphanage and did the same thing for all the kids there. As I thought about what I could do to breathe more life into my days at home with the kids, I realized that I could use some of the creativity that I employed as a camp counselor. Duh, right? But it's so easy to get caught up in the "to-dos" of motherhood and forget about the fun.
We've done lots of little things, like making a hat out of pipe cleaners, flying kites one afternoon when it was windy, and going for impromptu bike rides to get snow cones. We've also done some "bigger" things that took more effort, such as making a fire station out of a huge box and hosting a Fire Academy with Noah's friends where they "trained" as firefighters by going through an obstacle course. They had to bust out of the fire station on a truck, crawl under the "smoke" (a table), climb a ladder to rescue a cat from a tree, stop drop and roll, and spray down "fire" (cones) with a hose. Ryan helped me come up with the tasks, and it turned out really cute and fun.
But let me assure you that everything with these activities is not picture-perfect. In the days leading up to "Fire Ac-ah-demy" (as Noah called it), he was so excited; but he spent much of the afternoon of the big event wailing when things didn't go his way. (So infuriating for a mother who just wanted to plan something fun for him!!!) I learned from that experience that I should probably limit the number of kids that I invite over for things like that because Noah wants to be the leader, and when no one is listening to him and bigger kids are taking his things, he gets very angry. (He shouted at one of his guests who was being a bit of a bully to "Go home!" So embarrassing!! But after the fact I thought about it and realized that maybe it's a good thing that Noah will never be a doormat. I kind of love that kid's spunk.) It was a chaotic afternoon, and I think Noah and I will both remember it with mixed feelings, but it was worth doing--if only to learn more about my son's personality and how to help him have a better experience at social events in the future.
All in all, I think my friend was right. I do enjoy being a stay-at-home mother more when I do stuff like this with Noah. It's not so much for him as it is for me. It gives me more opportunities to use my talents, to connect with him, and to feel like I am making a difference to my kids by being home with them. I am going to try to keep it up!
And finally, in the month of June, at the encouragement of my hormone doctor, I completed a Whole 30. This is thirty days of basically eating only vegetables, meat, eggs, fruit, and nuts (no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes). It's a month of Paleo, but even more strict because you can't have honey or any sort of "treat," even if it doesn't include grains or sugar.
My doctor was hopeful that this "nutritional reset" would help with my on-going hormone issues, and I think it helped a little, but it didn't solve all of my problems completely. I still feel like it was worth doing because I learned so much about nutrition. I read and researched, I scoured every label in the grocery store, I recipe-searched, meal-planned, chopped vegetables, chopped more vegetables, and chopped more vegetables. I cooked and cleaned and made my own barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and clarified butter. I didn't eat one speck of sugar for thirty days. (!!!!) It was so much work--pretty much all-consuming--and there were days when I was unbelievably grumpy because I just wanted a slice of pizza or a brownie, but I did it. I completed a Whole 30. For a girl who hates cooking, washing dishes, and most vegetables (and who doesn't have any sort of healthy store like Sprouts or Whole Foods nearby), I'd say this is quite a feat!
Thankfully, my little sister did it with me (she was hoping to find a miracle cure for her debilitating eczema--no such luck) and Ryan did it with me (he was hoping to lose twenty pounds--totally kidding! that man cannot afford to lose an ounce!), and I couldn't have done it without their support. Ryan actually loves eating this way and says he could do it forever. I hope to continue eating mostly this way, because I like the way it makes my body feel and it has helped me lose weight, but I cannot maintain the strictness of this diet forever. It's all about balance in life, and I don't plan to freak out if I occasionally want to eat a cookie or a piece of pizza--or if I want to use store-bought BBQ sauce instead of making my own! (I am SO over cooking!!)
Now I am in the "reintroduction" phase where I introduce each food group back slowly and see how my body reacts. It has been quite an experience, and I'm glad I did it, even though it was super hard.
|Three cheers for yellow peppers and red cherries!|
|My cute friend Taryn gave me cubed sweet potatoes for my birthday. I loved it!|
|My birthday "cake"|
It's a busy, happy life.