Monday, August 26, 2013

Family Photos

A few weeks before we moved to Idaho, I was thrilled to win a photo shoot with my amazingly talented friend Lexi Johnson at a service auction for our church.  The way these auctions work is that people donate an item or a service (such as a batch of homemade cookies or one free tennis lesson or whatever), and then people bid on the them, and all of the money goes to a good cause.  I was lucky enough to be the high bidder on Lexi's photo session, and man am I glad!  She is so talented, and she got some great photos of Noah and of our family.  I've been scattering them through several blog posts over the past month (here, here, and here), but I thought I'd go ahead and post the rest of my favorites, for anyone who is interested:

This game is called "Here comes the wormy."  I know, I look ridiculous!  But aren't Ryan and Noah cute?

Why does he always resist my advances? :)

Flying!!  Dads are crazy!

We sure love our Noah Boy.  I'm so grateful to Lexi for capturing such a fun stage in his life through her photos.  (Now the tough part...deciding which pictures to frame!)

**P.S.  If you are in the Denver area, I highly recommend Lexi Johnson Photography!

Monday, August 19, 2013


The thing that I admire most about my brother-in-law Nate is his insane people skills.  He is so likeable.  The first time that I met him, I immediately loved him.  He asked me about living in Buffalo, teaching high school, and growing up with only sisters.  It is noticeable how sincerely he cares about people, even when he's just starting to get to know them.  He looks you in the eyes and asks the most genuine questions about your life, family, and interests.  He listens and interacts and engages.  It makes you feel important and valued.

I think this is a really important skill to have, and Nate comes by it so naturally.  There is nothing forced or staged about it at all.  Ryan has sometimes asked me how he can better connect with his colleagues, his patients, and his patients' parents.  Ry is shy and doesn't always know what to say in order to make "small talk."  I have told him to be like Nate--to ask lots of questions about the other person so that they feel understood and interesting.  This approach is perfect for Ryan because it means that he doesn't have to do much talking!  He just has to ask a good question and then listen intently. :) I am grateful to Nate for showing both me and Ryan how this is done.  He is a great example to us of how to connect with and love others.

When I am with Ashley and Nate, I love that Nate wants to visit too--he doesn't just go in the other room like so many husbands do.  Not that it's a bad thing for a guy to disappear after he's had his fill of the girls' gab, but it's so nice that Nate sticks around for a while to hear the latest news and to show that he cares about us.  I've loved the conversations that I've had with him and Ashley over the four years that they've been together.  They are two of my favorite people.  (As is their little snuggle bug, Kate.  She's the cutest.)

Nate is also a great uncle and has always had the magic touch with Noah.  In fact, when I visited them last year in Boise, Nate was the only person who could calm Noah down when he was in the midst of a fit. :)  Again, I think it's because he is genuinely interested in getting to know Noah and connecting with him.  He plays with him and talks to him, and he always seems so amused by Noah's antics and impressed by his new skills.  It makes me feel good that Nate loves my son.  (And as a side note, I've told Ryan that this is another way to win people over: Love their kids, and they will automatically love you!!  Isn't that so true??)

Happy birthday to an awesome man who has taught us a lot about how to reach out to others.  We admire you and love you--and we are so glad that we now live close to you, Ashley, and sweet baby Kate.  See you soon, Brother!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Noah Is Two!

Our little Noah Bug is two! He is active, talkative, smart, sweet, and cute as can be.  We feel so blessed to be his parents.

In celebration of his "Birthday Week," he got to open a new book each night at bedtime.  I've noticed that toddlers don't do well receiving lots of presents all at once (they hardly glance at one before they want to tear open the next), so I decided to space out his presents a little, and I am really glad I did.  He was so excited to open a book each night and snuggle in my lap to read it.  We may have to continue this tradition every year!


On his actual Big Day, we had a simple dinner party with Grandma Nielson, Uncle Tanner, and Noah's birthparents.  Katie and Drew came to Idaho to spend a couple of days with us, and it was very fun to have them.  Noah was in heaven with all of the undivided attention and fun outings!  (And it didn't hurt that they showed up with a ginormous balloon for him--score!!)

For the party, Katie made Noah an amazing cake that was almost as tall as he was (she is sooo talented), and I made some of Noah's favorite foods--namely, lemonade and homemade macaroni and cheese (or "noodles," as Noah calls it).

When Noah saw the cake, he was of course ecstatic because he adores trains.  He pointed excitedly at the cake and shouted, "Train!!"  Then he stopped and looked at the cake pensively and asked, "Who's that boy, Mama?" "That's Noah," I responded.  He was surprised: "What's Noah doing sitting on a cake?" Hahaha!  I love him.

We did our annual balloon release and each of us made a wish for Noah.  I wished that Noah will get a sibling this year; Sally said that I stole her wish, so instead she wished that Noah will learn to eat meat (amen to that one!); Ryan wished that Noah will not knock out any of his teeth; Tanner wished that Noah will not forget him (he is leaving for a two-year church mission at the end of this month!); Katie also wished that Noah will not forget her (she is going to teach English in Ukraine for 5 months); and Drew wished that he will be able to see Noah more often now that we live closer to them.  Noah LOVED watching each of the balloons floating into the sky.  This boy is still obsessed with balloons.

Noah is the most talkative little two-year old, and he makes me laugh every day with his comments about the world.  Here are a couple of my recent favorite stories (interspersed with Noah's "two year old photos" taken about six weeks ago by my friend, Lexi Johnson):

-When he is playing at the playground, he occasionally comes over to me and asks, "Be nice to your friends?"  This is his way of tattling when he thinks other kids aren't being nice to him.  I will respond, "Yep, we need to be nice to our friends!"  And with that validation, he runs off and starts playing again.

-When I was a kid, my mom would sing us a song about patience, so naturally, I've been singing it to Noah since he was a baby.  Whenever he threw a fit because he wasn't getting what he wanted quickly enough, I would sing, "Be patient, be patient, don't be in such a hurry.  When you get impatient, it only makes you worry.  Remember, remember that God is patient too.  And think of all the times that others had to wait for you!"  A few weeks ago, Noah requested peanut butter toast for breakfast, but then he started freaking out when the toaster wasn't fast enough for his liking.  I said, "Noah, please be patient."  And all of the sudden, he spontaneously started singing the song.  At first I didn't recognize it and didn't realize what he was doing, but then I heard these words loud and clear: "Member, Member God patient too.  Think of times other people wait for YOU."  Cutest thing ever!!!!  And in the weeks since, anytime I mention the word "patient," without fail, he launches into the song.  :)

-Our first Sunday at our new church, a lady came up to us to introduce herself and was talking animatedly.  I was holding Noah in my arms, and he was staring intently at the woman's mouth.  When he started reaching for her mouth, I was confused because I've never seen him do that before.  All of the sudden he announced, "I want your gum!"  She and I both burst out laughing.  Such a random thing for a two-year-old to say!  (And no, he did not get to have her gum!!)

-Speaking of church, the other day, he was being a rascal in Sacrament Meeting and screaming during prayers and such, so I took him into an empty classroom and sat him in a chair.  I told him it was a "sad choice" to scream in church, and he was in time-out.  I stood outside the classroom door for 30 seconds, and then I went back in and told him that we needed to practice being reverent.  I showed him how to fold his arms, and I helped him practice whispering.  Then I told him it was time to go back into the meeting, and he said, "No, fanks!  Noah wants to stay in time-out.  You leave now, Mommy."  Well that backfired! :)  (And P.S. the way he says "No, fanks!" is my absolute favorite.)

-Noah is really friendly.  He likes to learn people's names and use them (including his grandparents, whom he sometimes calls "Sally" and "Gordon").  A little neighbor girl babysat for us last week, and she told me later that when she sneezed, he said, "Bless you, Bayli!  Bless you!"  :)  When Noah doesn't know people's names, he will call them "Friend," "Lady," or "Guy."  "Hi, Lady!" he will shout at a woman walking by us at the grocery store, or "Hi, Guy!" at a man passing us in a parking lot.  I love how much he notices and acknowledges people.

-Yesterday, Noah and I drove to a nearby lake to play in the sand and go swimming.  This lake is only about 10 minutes from our house, but when you drive down into the canyon to get there, the landscape dramatically changes from green farmland to craggy, rugged, red and black rocks.  As we were nearing the canyon rim, I heard a little voice in the backseat state matter-of-factly: "Oh my gosh, Mommy.  Oh my gosh.  That's a lot of rocks."  Grinning, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw Noah wearing his ridiculous sunglasses taking in the beautiful scene ahead of us.  Love those moments.

-Last but not least, Noah has taken to telling me I'm pretty.  Most of the time when Noah and I are hanging out at home, I am in sweats or workout clothes, so when I come out of my room dressed in a decent outfit, his face lights up in a huge grin, and he says, "Ooooh.  Mommy's pretty!"  Melt my heart, why don't ya?

I love this little boy, and I have loved spending the past two years of my life taking care of him, learning from him, and watching him discover the world.  It really is an amazing privilege.

Happy Two Years, Noah Bug!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ry Guy

**Yesterday was Ryan's birthday, which means it's time for a blog tribute!  I decided that I would post the letter that I wrote to him on the night of his graduation from residency five weeks ago.  It captures some of the reasons why I love this man so much and am so grateful for him!


You did it.  I am so proud of you.  You worked your way through 11 years of post high school education.  You went from confused college student who didn’t know what to study, to diligent dental student who was hoping to possibly specialize in pediatrics, to stressed out pedo resident who was just trying to get through each day with your demanding boss, to qualified pediatric dentist who is going to be so patient and compassionate to all of the kids who sit in your chair every day!

I know you feel like you still have a long way to go, but look at how far you’ve already come!  I can’t wait to embark on this next phase of the journey with you.  I think you are really going to find your groove as a pediatric dentist, and I think it is going to be a career that you love.  I am proud of you, and I am excited for you!!  Thank you for working so hard to get your advanced education so you can support our family and contribute to our community.  I think you are pretty amazing.

When I ponder back on the past two years, what immediately comes to mind, even more than your residency, is the addition of Noah to our family.  It’s crazy to think that Noah arrived right at the beginning of this challenging opportunity in your life—and now he is a smart, spunky, adorable almost two year old.

I know you sometimes feel like you didn’t do enough in your role as a pediatric resident and an Elder’s Quorum president these past two years—but I want you to know that in your role as a father, you smashed it out of the park.  Really.  You are the most loving, hands-on, involved, fun, patient dad a little boy could ask for.

It wasn’t possible for you to fulfill all of your many roles perfectly—and I, for one, am glad that you chose to put your very best efforts toward fatherhood.  As you put your family first, everything else somehow worked out.  I know you felt frazzled, inadequate, and overwhelmed much of the time, but somehow everything got done, and at the end of it all, you have the same specialty degree as everyone else in your program, and, most importantly, you have an incredibly close relationship with your son.  Thank you for putting him first.  Thank you for loving fatherhood so much that it was easy to put him first. 

I also want to thank you for always being there for me.  These past two years have been difficult for me at times—with a colicky baby, counseling for an eating disorder, and fertility-related illnesses and surgery—but you were there for me through it all.  You never criticized me when you got home from work and the apartment was a disaster and there was no food in the house for dinner.  You never commented on my weight gain or my strange food binges. Even after a busy day at work, you were willing to put Noah to bed and help me clean up the house.

There were times during the course of your residency when I felt distant from you because you were so busy and we lived such different daily lives, and yet somehow you remained my confidant and closet friend through it all.  I remember when we were dating, I gave you a card with a picture of a stone on the front that said, “You are my rock…” and then when you opened it up, it said, “Only cuter.”  It’s true: You have always been my rock (my dang cute rock!), and I truly don’t know what I would do without you.  Thank you for giving of your precious time these past two years to support and love me.

So onto the next adventure, huh?  I am excited.  I am excited to see you grow and thrive in your career; I am excited to have you home more often; I am excited that you will no longer have to deal with a mean boss; I am excited to live closer to your family and to witness the happiness that they always bring out in you;  I am excited to go shopping for a couch and maybe even a queen-sized bed together; I’m excited to find fun things to do in Idaho; and, of course, I’m excited to hopefully add another baby to our family sometime in the near future. :)

Life is good—and you are the very best part of my life.  Thank you for being you and for loving me and Noah so much.  I feel so blessed that we get to take this life journey together.

Congratulations on your graduation from residency. What a huge accomplishment, Ryan.  You have worked so hard and learned so much and made amazing friendships along the way.  I am so proud of you.

I love you more than you will ever know,

Your Wife