Monday, September 27, 2010

What happened to His hands?

I met my father at the Visitor's Center at the Sacred Grove today, and we had a nice visit as we walked through the trees. The rain was lightly sprinkling, and so we were unconcerned at the beginning of our walk, and enjoyed the freshness that rainfall brings to the earth. Unfortunately, the rain picked up more than we had anticipated, and even Parker, who had wanted to keep going despite the sprinkling, wanted to go inside to someplace warm. I loaded the kidlets into the car, and met up with my father at the Hill Cumorah's visitor's center, just up the road. This visitor's center was larger, had a Christos, and a room with buttons to push to watch videos. When Parker walked into the room with the statue of Christ, he noticed the hands for the first time and asked, "What's wrong with his hands? What's on them?" I let the sister missionary explain how when Jesus had been killed, they (I'm quoting her words) had put nails in his hands and feet when the nailed him to the cross when he died for us. Parker was looking pretty upset (I wonder if he thought that Jesus had just recently died...) and so I reassured him and reminded him that three days after Jesus died, he was resurrected, so he's not dead any more: he's alive still, and he loves us very much. Parker seemed satisfied, and the boys enjoyed listening to the recording of several of Jesus Christ's teachings from the scriptures. Evan actually ran into that room several times and wanted to listen to it. He also loved Jesus' feet and toes... it is really quite humbling to realize that the Savior of the world has feet and toes just like us, and that we truly are created in the image of God!
On the drive home from the visitor's center, almost an hour after our original conversation in the visitor's center, Parker suddenly said, "Jesus had nail holes in his hands because he died for us."
"That's right," I answered.
"Mommy, why did Jesus die for us?"
"Well, Parker, Jesus loves us very much. He died for us and suffered for us so that we don't have to if we believe in him. Do you remember how we talked about how Jesus takes our owies? (Our interpretation of 2 Nephi 9:21) Jesus died to take our owies, so that we can repent."
"Mommy, why do we go to church?"
"To learn about Heavenly Father and Jesus, and to repent."
"Ah. Ah-pent. I can ah-pent."
It was such a sweet and tender experience. We never know just what our sweet children are going to remember and keep with them. Parker had been thinking about the Savior's suffering for longer than I would have expected, and had been pondering it. He may only be three years old, but his testimony is growing. I'm so very grateful for the Spirit of the Lord that allows us to recognize truth, and to communicate it. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer, and that it's only through him that we can find happiness, and I'm glad that my children are learning that as well.

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

I have heard so many stories of cars breaking down, and have seen my fair share of them on the side of the road during trips. Every told me how brave, and even crazy, I was for embarking on an eleven hour drive alone with my children to head back home to Canandaigua for the week. I wasn't concerned, as I knew how fantastic the boys were both for our drive out to Chicago from Utah, and for our trip down to Missouri for Michael (Nordquist)'s wedding. From the wedding experience we also learned that it's best not to drive down immediately before a big event, but to give the boys some time to adjust to a new place before exposing them to all sorts of new people and situations... if possible. I now understand a little bit why people thought I was so crazy... although the boys really were fantastic.

We left North Chicago at 5:12, only slightly later than originally planned. I'd wanted to get on the road early to avoid the crazy traffic outside Chicago--our commutes home-hunting had taught us how awful traffic can be, and we'd planned well. There was still a lot of traffic, but it was moving quickly... very quickly... so I made good time. At around 9am CST (10am Eastern, which was the local time zone) we stopped for a bathroom break. I changed the boys' diapers and got them dressed, and decided to put a movie in for them. I couldn't get the adapter to pick up a signal. Then I noticed the clock light dimming. I turned off the car, and then couldn't restart it. I found someone to jumpstart the car, and decided (after a quick call to Pops) to get to the closest auto repair shop, which was just a mile away, off the next exit. I'd been stopped at a pull-off stop that's just right off, right on I-80, and the car died just after I got back on the interstate. I was hardly on, and still in the right lane, so I was able to pull off easily. My battery light was on, the power steering died, the clock died, and even my emergency flashers wouldn't go on. Crazy. I called Mike again and he gave me the number for AAA and my mom's account number. I was able to add myself to her policy for $60, and they said they would get a tow truck out to me as soon as possible.
After all the phone calls were made, I will confess that I cried. But, the boys were great. They read books, played with the file folder games, and ate grapes. The car got pretty hot and muggy though, and they started sweating. I would hold the door open every once in awhile to cool things off, but it was really loud. Two patrol cars stopped by at different times to make sure I was okay. The troopers were so nice, and the first one helped me and pushed my car further onto the grass on the shoulder... he even told me how to put my car in neutral since I was an idiot and didn't know how. You have to turn the key on...even with a dead car. Go figure. The tow truck guy finally called, after AAA calling twice to tell me that it would be just a little longer than anticipated. He called to let me know he was close, and to make sure he knew where I was. His truck only had a front seat, and there wasn't room for the car-seats, so Parker got to ride in the middle seat, and Evan sat on my lap. SCARY! But, evidently you just CAN'T let passengers ride on the flat bed of tow trucks! We drove the thirteen miles to the shop (since it was AAA affiliated, it didn't cost extra for the extra towing) I also found out I needed new tires... you could see the metal on the rear tires. Not a good time to recall the mechanics telling us how we'd need new tires soon last time we got the tires rotated.... almost a year ago. Ooops! But, what a blessing to figure that out early, before both tires blew out on my way to New York. j
I was hoping to just have a slipped belt, or maybe a dead battery, but the alternator was completely dead. Thankfully, Thomas was able to skip class and find our warranty information. Several phone calls later, we at least had that sorted out! The repair shop had a gas station, a "convenience" store, and a waiting room for customers in the back with a few booths and tables, as well as bathrooms. One of the employees got my laptop from the car, and the boys and I sat and watched the beginning of Lady and the Tramp. I eventually grabbed our cooler from the car and we had more grapes, juice, and cold pizza. Then the boys wanted to run around the shop, up and down the aisles. They also enjoyed looking at the giant, taxidermied moose head, and run into the back office to see the taxidermied quail, mooing, barking, and chirping the whole time, of course. The shop owners were very patient, and told me that they would be worried if they boys weren't running around. A woman came in, getting a tire repaired (it ended up having a nail and some glass in it) and helped me chase Evan while I made some necessary phone calls. We talked a little bit, and she shared some of her bag of pretzels with the boys, making instant friends with Evan. Her repair finished earlier than mine, of course, and she asked when my car would be finished. It would be at least another hour, so she offered to take us over to her house so the boys could run around and play.
Now, normally I don't get in cars with strangers, and especially don't take my children to strange houses, but I needed to get them out of that confined space, and felt good about it. The mechanics installed my car-seats in Rose's car, and we drove the few miles to her gorgeous house. Someday Thomas and I will have a real house! (But, we're grateful to be where we are now, and wouldn't trade it... it's just nice to know what we're working for!) Rose played with the boys, and we had a chance to visit. She was so sweet with the kids, and they had so much fun running around, playing with balls, and Parker couldn't get enough of Pac-Man. She even loaded us up with snacks. Before we left, Evan was looking at some resin ducks she had displayed on her floor. He kept petting one of them, and then picking it up and saying "hug." He was so gentle with it. She saw how he kept running back to it, and gave it to him, and since she understands small children, she gave Parker one too. Evan can't get enough of is "duckies." When the repair shop called, she took us back, and sat in the car with the boys while I settled the account, and ran to the bathroom one more time. We loaded up the boys, and they fell asleep almost immediately. She also gave us some cash, which was such a blessing, and so thoughtful. I hope that someday I can be that kind of a person, and that I'll have the opportunity to serve someone the was Rose blessed us!
Although Rose said that we'd given her more than she gave us, I'm not sure that's true! Although we'd tried to make the best of a bad situation, as the adage goes, because of the angel placed in our path, we were able to turn a bad situation into a delightful afternoon, and an experience we'll never forget. A recent conference talk (I'll attach the link when I have a better internet connection) teaches that when we pray for our friends and loved ones to be blessed and protected, we're praying for angels both earthly and heavenly to help them. I'm so grateful for the kindly woman in South Bend, Indiana who answered the prayers of my husband and mother to help me. I'm not sure how we would have survived the experience with the boys otherwise!
We got on the road again around 4pm, and the rest of the trip was blessedly uneventful.
We had to stop a few more times, for gas and dinner, and once around 10:30 because Evan was just inconsolable and needed to nurse (which was easier on me to relieve that pressure!) We got into Canandaigua at around 2am... later than I'd anticipated 1-because of the breakdown, obviously, 2-because of the stops, and 3-because I hadn't changed the time zone on my GPS, and so thought I was an hour closer to my destination that I actually was. The boys woke up when we got to my mom's house, which allowed me to wash their hands and faces thoroughly, a good thing, but kept us up longer than I would have liked. I put Parker's sleeping bag on the floor on a bigger blanket and he was good to go, but Evan kept trying to jump on Parker and explore the room. I turned the lights off, but it still took the little guy awhile to fall asleep. But, we arrived safely, and were able to get a decent morning's sleep :) Mom and Mike's second flight had been cancelled, so they ended up not getting in until the next morning, Thursday the 23rd. Aunt Beth had had a delayed flight as well--a lot of opposition in getting here this weekend! The boys were terrible on Thursday, but were better after that. All of my aunts and uncles were here this weekend (expect for two spouses...) So nice to see everyone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Settling In, and Beginning of Preschool

My friend (I'll have to get her permission to name her and her kiddos on here...) emailed me better pictures of the little ones at the Bass Pro shop fish tank... you can see how hard it is to get both kids looking at the camera, and smiling. You can tell they're emphatically saying "cheese!" in most of the pics... and you can see how Evan clenches his fists when he says cheese :)

Aren't they adorable??? When we were walking the mall, I had the two of them hold hands so I wouldn't lose them, and we got so many looks, and people whispering to each other and pointing at us... I'm pretty sure most people thought that I was blessed with some blond twins. My friend, who's also brunette, and I got asked where we found the blond kids. Ha ha. Comments like that just make me roll my eyes. I mean, really? Do they want a lecture in genetics? An explanation of .... or a confession to kidnapping? But, I'm sure they all mean well, and no offense is taken.

And now back to the original post. I really wish you could add new pictures onto a blog post wherever you wanted them!

This is Parker sporting his new hat. When I was patching the boys' jeans, we came across a hat I'd started for the boys when they were babies. Parker saw it and begged me to finish it for him. Every time I went to work on something different, he would bring me the hat, yarn, and crochet hook. I finally told him I would finish it while he slept, and it would be done when he woke up. He was out of his bed ten minutes after I put him down, asking for his hat. I had to tell him it wouldn't be done until it was day, and then he stayed in bed until morning. He definitely loves his hat. I'm going to have to make one for Evan, since he's pretty jealous of Parker's.

Parker started preschool the 10th of September, and loved it. After we dropped him off, Evan and I played with some of our new friends. We met some friends through church who have kids our kids' age. They've had fun playing together, and we mom's have had fun being able to carpool--switching driving the older boys, and watching the little ones. But, Friday, for Parker's first day, we all went to drop him off. Evan was pretty upset to have to leave him, but had fun getting in our friend's van and going to the mall. We walked around the Bass Pro Shop and the kids had fun looking at all the taxidermied animals, the boats, the giant tank with fish, and especially the stream and water wheel. We also went and hung out outside the rainforest cafe, and the kids had fun watching the moving alligator, and playing with the frog on the bench. We spent a few hours at the mall, and then picked up the older boys from preschool. As soon as they saw each other, Parker and Evan gave each other the BIGGEST hug, right in the middle of the classroom. When Parker came home after our friend brought him back from preschool, Evan hugged him in the hall outside our door. Those boys really do love each other!! And, I'm glad they're not afraid of showing affection. There's a little girl at church that Evan enjoys showing affection for as well... she's almost 18 months old, and Evan can't get enough of her. He likes to follow her around and give her hugs, give her toys, and play with whatever toys she's playing with. Last week we sat by her family, and Evan looked over at her, pointed at himself, then her, and said "You, me, Costco?" It was so funny. Evan is starting to talk a lot more, and put sentences together. I love watching my children grow! Evan refers to anything not home as "Costco." I guess that just shows how often we went to Costco in Provo! Any time we leave, he says its Costco. He even calls the park Costco, so I'm pretty sure he was asking his little friend on a date to the park. Adorable, right?

This is a terrible picture of the kids in front of the fish tank.
Isn't she the cutest little girl???
My little guys in the car, in their matching UND sweatshirts. Yay for hand-me-downs! Parker likes to make sure that he and Evan match :) Just so you know, Parker's finger isn't IN his nose, just next to it.

So, the brotherly love isn't always foremost in Parker and Evan's relationship. The picture isn't the clearest, but if you look above his left eye, you can see where Evan got a Sharpie and drew all over Parker's face while Parker was asleep. Ah, the joys of unpacking and the kids finding things in strange places until we get everything put away!

We were really excited about this purchase... it's a wet bag that fits all of our dirty diapers and keeps odors in until we wash them. People are so shocked when we tell them how we prefer cloth diapers to disposables, but we really do! We love our bumgenius diapers! The econobum aren't bad either, and allow us to go longer between diaper washes.

You may notice the toilet paper on the towel rack above the toilet. No, our toilet paper holder isn't broken, we're just trying to keep the toilet paper away from Evan. He still likes to rip off pieces of toilet paper, suck on them, put them behind his nuk, then roll them up and roll them across his face, then put them between his toes, and then finally leave these spit wads ALL OVER. If he can get his hands on the toilet paper, he'll have the whole roll shredded and soaked. Nasty.

This is Evan playing with the boats in the Bass Pro shop... he had so much fun. It was soo cute!

I was grinding wheat for flour, and so didn't hear when Evan got into the cereal and dumped the entire bag of Kix on the floor. I think he preferred eating the cereal off the floor... thankfully it was recently cleaned!! We've been trying a more natural approach to cleaning: vinegar, baking soda, lemon. It makes things safer for the kids, and works very effectively and inexpensively!