Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spring Fling

I called this post "Spring Fling" because I am going to fling up some of the best photos that cover a four month span and call it good!  I have got to get caught up on this blog or else I am going to give up on it altogether!

Noah got to take a special weekend trip with his dad to be at Callum's baptism!  The plane tickets were too expensive for all of us to go, but we really wanted Noah to be there for this milestone in his best-cousin's life.  (Noah doesn't have any other older cousins, so this is the only baptism he will really get to be excited about until his own.)  Sarah and Logan were also performing in Lamb of God that weekend, and Ryan had never seen it, so we decided that he should go with Noah and be there for both events.

Noah was so excited to go and celebrate with Callum that he even made his own count-down sheet and checked the boxes diligently each morning right when he woke up.

While the boys were gone, Sally and I enjoyed a weekend of girl time.  I love this photo of us riding her plasma car with the spring blossoms overhead.

We spent Easter this year in Pocatello with our Nielson grandparents and cousins.  It was a crazy and fun time, as always.  Look at all these little children!  It's madness!  (And check out Sally's impressive choke hold on poor Gracie! Ha!)  Grandma also bought the world's cutest playhouse for them, and they spent hours enjoying it out in the yard.

And I'm sorry, are my kids not just the cutest in their Easter outfits?  And I love all of Sally's expressions--she was so excited for Easter.

After four years of working with the Young Women group at church, I helped to plan my last New Beginnings for them in March.  We did a values fashion show and got them all beautified--it was a super fun and meaningful night.  I started out in YW as the Mia Maid advisor, and then I got put into a new presidency.  Four years is a long time to work with the youth (I calculated that I had spent about 190 Wednesday nights and Sunday lessons with them), but I grew to love them so much.  I feel like if I made a difference to anyone during our time in Twin Falls, it was the girls I worked with.

I also grew so close to the leaders I worked with.  They became some of my best friends in Twin.  Serving in the church is such a blessing for that reason alone!

Noah played in a little soccer league with some of his buddies.  I can't tell if he really likes soccer or has any sort of a natural knack for it, but before the season started, I made him promise that he would actually play instead of just lying in the middle of the field like he did last season. Ha!  I said, "You DO NOT have to play soccer.  If you don't want to, that is fine with me!  But if you tell me that you want to and I pay the money, then you can't whine and you can't mope around the field."  He said he wanted to, and I am pleased to report that he kept his end of the bargain and got out there and hustled.

Noah "graduated" from kindergarten.  (Why is that even a thing?) He had a great year.  Since he is so young for his grade, and I wasn't sure if he was ready to sit quietly at a desk, I put him in an alternative kindergarten that is based on Waldorf-style curriculum, and it was a perfect fit for him.  They did so much building, experimenting, frolicking in the mud, and exploring nature.  They built a "wormery," watched baby chicks hatch, developed models of the solar system, created fairy houses out of natural materials, and all sorts of creative, hands-on learning.  I am a little concerned that they didn't do much reading and writing, and thus Noah might not be quite ready for 1st grade, but I still think the kindergarten was the right choice for him.  It was most important to me that he learn to love school--and he did!  He is excited to go to a Spanish immersion school this fall.

His best friend from school was a darling little boy named Porter.  They called each other "Porty" and "Noey" and hugged each other upon arrival at school every day. ;)

For Mother's Day weekend, I asked Ryan to take the kids to Pocatello so I could spend the weekend organizing before our move to Hailey. The irony was not lost on me: Happy Mother's Day to me, now please get these children out of my hair!!  Ha!  The biggest project that I wanted to tackle was organizing all of my lesson plans, papers and materials from my 5-year career as a high school English teacher.  I had six crates packed with materials, and it took hours and hours to sort through.  But I now have neat and organized binders for each of the books/units that I taught, and I condensed it all down to two crates of my very best stuff.  Such a big project, but I am so happy that it's done.  I am hoping to tutor high school and college students in Hailey, so it feels great to have my materials ready to access and use!

Our favorite Ashlyn got married!  The Sumpsions have been a huge part of our life in Twin Falls these past four years, and we will always be grateful for their friendship and the way they have loved our kiddos.

And speaking of those cute newlyweds, they watched our kids for a few days while Ryan and I went to Washington DC over Memorial Day weekend.  He had a dental conference there, and I couldn't resist tagging along because I wanted to see my little sister!  Laura and Sam moved to Virginia about a year ago, and they live super close to DC.  So Laura and I hung out and saw the sights while Ryan went to all of his nerd classes. Ha!  He really does love his CE courses and when he goes to conferences, he is not there to vacation--he is there to learn as much as he can.  I could hardly convince him to leave an hour early a few of the days so he could spend time with me.  I love that little dental nerd of mine.

Some of the highlights of the weekend included: seeing Taylor Hawes, one of our best friends from the Buffalo years, who happened to be in town for a lawyer conference; spending time with my insanely cute niece and nephew; spending time with my wacky sister who makes me laugh more than anyone (we decided that we need some serious selfie lessons); eating all sorts of delicious food, such as homemade doughnuts (it's possible we went more than once); and of course going to the inspiring and patriotic memorials around DC.

My favorite memorial was FDR.  I have always admired him and how he lead the country through the Great Depression.  Walking around the memorial, which was so beautiful and peaceful with the waterfalls and gardens, I loved reading his quotes on the walls and thinking about the service that he gave to our country for so many years.  I loved the corner of the garden that was devoted to Eleanor, as she was my childhood hero and I read all the books about her when I was in elementary school. ;)

Another highlight was going to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend.  There were so many American flags, and it was just beautiful.  I feel like so much awe and respect was in the air as visitors thought about the upcoming holiday and how much these men and women had sacrificed for our country.

A few of the lowlights of the trip were getting lost in a torrential downpour as we tried to find the Metro--and then getting on the wrong Metro line and ending up lost again.  Ha!  Despite a few bumps, it was a fabulous trip. 

We made it home just in time for our new niece to be born!  Emma Mae was born on May 31, which just happens to be my birthday!!  Yay!  So now I have a birthday buddy, and I've sealed "favorite aunt" status forever.  She is a precious little bundle, and we are so happy for Ashley and Nate.  And yes, the babies on Ryan's side of the family just keep coming!

Other than the excitement of Emma's birth, my birthday was pretty chill this year.  I figured the trip to DC was my gift, and I didn't expect anything else--but Noah made sure that I felt extra special that evening when he planned a birthday party for me.  It had a "princess" theme, and the guests were Ryan, Noah, and Sal--which worked out perfectly because those are my three favorite people! ;)  Before the party began, Noah went out to the backyard and told me that under no circumstances was I to go out there.  When he came back in, he insisted that I put on my Elsa dress (ha!), and then he explained that he had set up an obstacle course where the brave knights (he and Dad) had to get through all sorts of obstacles and defeat a horrible monster in order to save the princesses (me and Sal).  Not exactly a feminist plotline, but it was so darn cute that I didn't care!

I absolutely love that he came up with all of that on his own.  It made me feel happy to know that the birthday parties I have planned for him have made an impression, and that he wants to show me that he loves me, too.  I ended the night by reading him stories in the hammock, and it was just perfect.  Couldn't have asked for a better end to the day.

It was a great spring with lots of happiness and family time.  And I had no idea what was coming for me at the beginning of June...during the very week that we were moving.  I will give you a hint: It's kidney stones.  More on that nightmare in my next post!