Thursday, November 7, 2013

$20 for Miranda

I rolled down the window and beckoned the woman with the cardboard sign over to our van.  "Have a nice day" I said as I smiled and handed her a $20 bill.  She looked down, then up, then down again and started to cry.  "I want you to know this is for my children - it helps them - I spend it on them - thank you so much. "

I rolled up the window and Addison inquired why she was so sad and how come we gave her a piece of paper.  "Honey, she's having a really hard time right now but Heavenly Father loves her and wants us to help her know that" I started to explain.  Fighting back tears of my own, we talked about how we try to help people in need because we are all God's children and He loves us all so much.  "Mommy, what's her name?" Addison asked.

I rolled down the window again and caught the woman's attention.  "My daughter wants to know your name" I called.  I had to ask twice because the honking of the car behind me to signal the light was green drowned out my voice.  "My name's Miranda" she replied.

I rolled up my window, stepped on the gas, and we waved at each other.  Tears on both mother's faces.  "Honey, her name is Miranda."

The holidays are fast approaching and my inner wish to help my children be charitable is at the forefront of my thoughts.  I want to raise giving, helpful, compassionate, non-judgmental children.  I want them to know they are daughters or God and everyone they encounter is a son or daughter just the same.  Regardless of dress, life situation, or circumstances - Heavenly Father loves us all and wishes the best for us.  Being a parent, even for just a short while, helps me realize more and more just how deep His love for us must be. 

I'm an avid internet reader and was recently reading a blog post about giving to strangers.  There is controversy over whether this is a good idea - are we giving drug money - does it really help - if I donate to my church then they help those who really need it absolving me from my duty - etc.  That post was just another piece that has changed me.  The authors' mindset everyday is something to the affect of, "Father, I am your servant, and I will help whichever of your children you place in my path, unless you direct me otherwise".  My mindset has always been - as directed, I will help those in my path.

Before the blog post I never would have handed out $20.  We occasionally pay the tab of the car behind us in the drive through (if you've never done it you should give it a go - it gives you a wonderful and sneaky feeling that lasts) and frequently we give food to those begging at freeway exits (because my diaper bag always has snacks in it).  But we rarely give money.  Partially, because we aren't regularly cash carrying people and partially because I have always judged the people on the side of the road and don't want to feed a substance habit. 

I don't usually help unless directed otherwise - I typically wait for a big impression to help.  What a subtle and substantial difference. 

Am I actively doing all I can to bless every son and daughter of God that is in my path without judgment and with complete compassion?

My heart has been being softened over the past several months towards this topic.  Oliver was out of work for most of the summer and early fall.  We were the recipients of so much charity.  Big, small, monetary, tangible, time - Love.  We weren't actively asking for the help or soliciting the assistance but we were blessed anyway.   I wasn't begging on the street corner or sleeping outside - but I'm sure I would if my children needed it.  The Lord placed so many people in our path - that without judgment - served our family.  We were not forgotten by our Father, we were loved and showered upon in our time of need. 

You know what?  During that time I was still talking on my iPhone, driving my 2013 Honda van, and for a period of our summer we were eating out every single day.  But without judgment people helped us. 

Oliver was laid off, by phone, on day 3 of a month-long planned vacation.  We quickly made the rounds to see family and then returned to Utah to start finding work.  We were heart broken.  We missed my aunt's wedding and a family reunion - fun time together and a trip to see family in California.  We were so sad to be driving home and were worried about what lay ahead. 

We returned home to find that our home had been flooding for a long duration of the 11 days we were gone.  Part of the consequence was that we lost our kitchen and so our insurance paid for our daily restaurant habit for more than 6 weeks.  Not many people knew the financial arrangement of our eating out and could easily be standing on the sidelines wondering why we were eating out when we had no income coming in.  But they didn't judge - at least not to our faces - they just loved and helped us.  Maybe it was a blessing to destroy our house while Oliver was out of work because it saved us a lot of our grocery money!

There were plenty of things we went without because the tricky part of unemployment is not knowing how long it will last.  If we had known that Oliver would be back to work by the end of September then Addison, Oliver, and Claire wouldn't have celebrated birthdays where they were gifted things that we already had - or in Oliver's case - got nothing.  We wouldn't have forgone celebrating our anniversary and Addison could have had yellow cheese sticks from Costco.  (The only thing she wanted when daddy got a job was to buy more yellow cheese sticks).  But there were still many reasons for people to look in and judge - but that wasn't our experience.

So, we're slowly changing our mindsets and trying to give, serve, and help everyone in our path unless we are directed otherwise.   Hindsight is strong and Satan starts whispering, "$20! really! cash!" but the Lord was in the moment, the Spirit was in our hearts, and maybe Addison will grow up and remember Miranda and how much she is loved.  And maybe we will have a more charitable and non-judgmental holiday season then we would have otherwise. 

Thank you Miranda for asking for help today - you helped change my heart.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

7 Months

Claire is 7 months today.  Her morning started by sleeping in until 9 am.  Addison is always so excited to hear Claire wake up in the morning and today she decided to feed her the morning bottle.  What's funny is when Claire stops drinking Addison follows her mouth around with the nipple spraying milk all over her face, the blanket, her clothes, etc. 
After her bottle they played together and Addison loves to lay her head in Claire's lap and talk to her. 
Claire went down for her morning nap and woke up with her one arm poking out of the neck of her jammies.  She isn't sleeping swaddled anymore and she wakes up in all kinds of interesting positions.
The cuddled before their afternoon naps.
Then the day finished with more playtime, a banana for dinner, and the mandatory monthly pictures, weighing and length checking.

Of course, Addison had to have her monthly picture taken as well.

Pretty much everyday consists of my repeating 100 times "Addison, love and let go". 

Recycled Clothes and Sunday Rides

This is the jumper that my mom bought Addison for her one year birthday.  She bought it months before her birthday and held onto it until August hoping she would wear it in through the fall.  Well Addison only fit it once - and not even really fit it - so we just put it on to take Addison's birthday pic and then we packed it away.  

It turns out that Claire is ready to wear it at 6 months and my mom will be happy that it is finally getting some wear.  Claire is 27" at 6.5 months (April 14) and Addison was 28" by one-year so while Claire isn't as thick around she certainly has the height and it explains why she is already in all her 12 month clothes.  The second picture is how Claire feels about always having to wear hand-me-downs :)
In other news, I bought a bike!  I have been riding a mountain bike that was given to me in 1999 when I was a sophomore in high school.  It wasn't new then - but it has served me well.  It doesn't serve me when Oliver pedals once to my 50 pedals and so we decided to get me a bike so we could ride together as a family.  Last summer I tried to ride Oliver's road bike a few times and pull Addison in the trailer but the fit was wrong, the clip shoes were wrong, and I couldn't get the shoes unattached from the pedals while I was on Redwood Road.  Needless to say - it wasn't glorious.  Oh, did I also mention that there has been mold in my helmet and the plastic was breaking it off but I wore it anyway.  So we left the bike shop on April 13th with a new bike, clip shoes, pedals, and a mold-free helmet!  We took our maiden family voyage on April 14th to go and see the sheep about 2 miles from our house.  I'm really out of shape - but it was fun.

Addison was begging for her picture to be taken with Claire in the trailer and then she wouldn't smile or even look at me - oh the little drama queen!

Lastly, we finally put the tray on Claire's high chair and I have been putting toys and puffs on her tray to keep her happy.   Addison often requests her own dry cereal to be put on the tray so they can eat together.  She just loves to do everything that Claire is doing.  (taken April 17)  Also, Claire hates her cereal puffs and locks her gums together so that you can't get any in her mouth so Addison patiently waits until Claire is done practicing her pinching grip and then swiftly eats all of her puffs for her.

7 Months of Sisterly Love

Scenario: Claire is lying on the changing table getting her bum changed while Addison stands on her step stool next to the table and is stroking Claire's head and talking to her. 
Addison: Mom who sent us this?
Mom: Sent us what honey?
Addison: Claire
Mom: God sent her too us.
Addison: I just love that He would do that for me.  She is wonderful.  Can she come snuggle in my bed with me?
Mom: Sure, for just a few minutes before nap.

Pictures are a result of their tender sisterly love for each other.
It's moments like these that make the generic and monotonous mom moments worth it.  We'll just keep finding joy in our journey.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

While Addison Was Sleeping

Claire is a great sleeper and typically sleeps at all the same times as Addison plus some.  On one rare occasion Addison took a three hour nap and Claire was done after 2.5 hours.  During those 30 minutes of mom and Claire time we decided to have a photo shoot.  I didn't have to take identical pictures of Addison and I could make some effort to actually get a photo of Claire smiling.  

In case you are interested in some comparison - the right is Addison at 6.5 months and the left is Claire at 6.5 months.  They really look less and less alike the older they get.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Happy Easter - Delayed

I have a folder titled "blog" on my desktop with all the pictures that I have every intention of posting for the blog-world.  If you were to look in it right now you'd see picture from Halloween that I never got posted - and Claire's newborn pics, and pics from her first days home, and pics of her first bath, etc, etc.  You get the idea. 

I'm not sure if I've given up on myself completely but I'm surely not playing catch-up today. 

Addison has received SO MANY CLOTHES since her birth that we really can't justify buying anything for Claire - Addison especially has countless fancy dresses because both her uncles were married since she was born and her Nana Hansen never had daughters so she'll often come home with something new and cute to wear.  

However, I love matching clothes!  I guess you could say the love affair started as a child and we were always matching/coordinating.  If I could find the picture from my childhood where I'm matching my brothers and my sister and it was actually very "in" back then I would post it for you.  Oh wait - I did find it!
Holly was the only one with any good sense realizing that 23 years later we would look back and cringe at the awesomeness that was NEON!  

Anyway, because of my love for matching clothes I decided to splurge and buy the girls matching Easter dresses.  I'm pretty sure that I always had matching or coordinating Easter clothes growing up and it maters to me.  Hopefully Claire and Addison won't look back and cringe at the awesomeness that is pastel purple, hot pink shoes, big flowers, and cap sleeves.  (PS Let me tell you how ecstatic I was to find cap sleeves on a toddler dress - she doesn't need sleeveless.   PPS Can you believe that Claire is in 12 month clothes and Addison's dress is 4T!).

I had to post another because I can't figure out what facial expression combination I love more.
Our neighbor was gracious enough to stop by before church and snap a few family pictures.  None turned out wonderfully because Addison was just done by then and I pulled a screaming Claire out of her car seat just to pacify her long enough to snap the picture.  She thought she was going to starve and couldn't figure out how come I woke her from a nap just to jam her into some frilly girly dress and force her to pose over and over and over.  

In other news, this is the skirt that I wore the day I came home from my mission.  While it doesn't fit quite as loosely or ride quite as low on my hips - it zips all the way up and I am making some stellar progress.  Down 70 pounds since Addison was born!  Boo-YAH!

In other randomness, here are some more coordinated/matching childhood Easter pictures.  Probably 1987 and 1985.  I don't know if LDS church girls ever participated in the extreme fashion of hats and gloves or if was just the rest of the Christian girl world - but we had Easter hats and small white gloves many years in a row!

Enjoying 2 Hours of Conference with a 2-Year Old

Up until this conference Addison has napped through part or all of every session of conference and so we haven't needed to have things to occupy her time.  Claire is taking after her and will sleep through every session of conference with her morning and afternoon naps.  Addison will nap through every afternoon session - so we only needed a little bit of entertainment to keep her occupied for the morning session.

I printed up a picture of each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 and when each one speaks she matches their picture and removes them from the row.  When all 15 have spoken conference will be over - or almost over.  Addison can actually name more than half (typically Monson, Eyring, Uchtdorf, Packer, Perry, Nelson, Oaks, Holland, Bednar, and Cook) and she can tell you something about each of them.  For instance President Monson's bday is in August and President Eyring loves to make bread and Elder Perry likes to do yard work.  We're still working on Ballard, Scott, Hales, Christofferson, and Andersen - they are hit and miss.   
President Packer was the first to speak and she was really excited to actually get to remove a paper.  We've been preparing for conference for days and so she was so excited for it to actually be happening!  
I have also filled mason jars with little treats when she hears certain words like Priesthood, prayer, scriptures, temple, family, baptism, Jesus Christ, service, and family home evening.  They are labelled with a word and picture so she can recognize them.  Elder Packer started it off right away by saying Priesthood and she was beyond ecstatic!

Mom soon realized that Priesthood was going to be said way too many times to have a peppermint stick every time and so we changed out the jar and filled it with kix.
Addison soon decided that she didn't want anymore Jesus treats which were only animal crackers but she was begging for someone to say service so she could have a lindor ball.  It took all the way until President Eyring for her to hear the magic word and then he must have said it 5 or more times.   I'm not sure that Addison understood a lot of the messages but she at least knows some of the words that were repeated during conference and how to recognize our Priesthood authorities.
We ended up moving the jars to the floor and she wasn't that excited about prayer, scriptures, Jesus, Priesthood, or temple (craisins, cheez-its, animal crakcers, kix, apple jacks) but she did get 1 fruit snack for baptism, 2 lindor balls for service, and several mini M&Ms for family.  It worked great and she lasted all 2 hours of conference - not all the way attentive - but at least engaged and we would say somewhat exceptional for only 2 years old.  

Oliver and I are looking forward to enjoying this afternoon while our kids nap and then having more fun tomorrow morning with some other fun activities that I have planned.  I LOVE Conference weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

For Aunt Kel - 5 Months

Lest you think that Claire isn't having her picture taken like Addison was - you are mistaken.  I have just about as many pictures - they just haven't made their debut on the blog.  After a request from Aunt Kel I decided to post the 5 month pictures of Claire which were taken on February 24, 2013.  I'll post 6 month pictures next.

Every month after Claire has her picture taken with her frog - Addison insists on having her picture taken with Claire's frog too to show her progress.

That night, Claire was showing off her extraordinary skill of sitting up unassisted. 
While taking Claire's sitting-up pictures and cheering her on Addison started screaming, "Mom, mom, I can sit up by myself too!  Take my picture!"  So here is Addison sitting up by herself at 2-1/2!  What a talented child...

6 Months

Here Claire is at 6 months and getting cuter everyday. 

Oliver bought Claire her frog before she was born and we're using it to compare her growth every month.  He bought Addison a bear as her special stuffed animal.  This month Addison needed her picture taken with her bear and with Claire's frog both to record her growth!

PS Aunt Kel - this post if for you - do you like the cute dress you bought me?

Bathing Together

Addison bought Claire a bath chair for Christmas.  Did you know 4 pennies could buy so much!?  I got it from the basement on March 7th and it is the best purchase we've made.  Claire is sturdy enough to sit but wouldn't be ready to sit alone in a tub for many months.  This allows them to play together and the day we got it out they bathed together for more than an hour.  I can wander in and out and fold laundry and putz while they play nicely.  It also allows us to fill the tub very full which is Addison's favorite!

Now I just have to try to keep Addison from "bathing" Claire on her own.  Claire isn't going to have any trouble sticking her face in the water when she's bigger because she rarely has a bath without having a face full of water.